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NY pledges $200 million for photonics center in Rochester
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New York state is promising to pony up $200 million toward a photonics prototyping and testing facility in Rochester if Uncle Sam also kicks in.

Apr. 9, 2015
Matthew Daneman

The SUNY Research Foundation, the University of Central Florida and the University of Southern California all are vying for $110 million from the U.S. Defense Department for a high-tech Institute for Manufacturing Innovation focused on photonics. That Institute has to be matched with at least $110 million in non-federal funding.

The SUNY Research Foundation pitch revolves around numerous educational institutions and companies partnering up, including the University of Rochester, Rochester Institute of Technology, SUNY Polytechnic Institute, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Arizona, as well as Corning Inc. and IBM.

The SUNY Research proposal is significantly Rochester-centric and points out the significant number of optics and photonics companies locally. Its ultimate aim is cutting the cost of photonics-related technology as well as making an easier path for turning those technologies into products.

In a letter released Thursday by the office of U.S. Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-Fairport, state Department of Economic Development Commissioner Howard Zemsky wrote the Air Force — the lead agency in the Defense Department project — saying that if the New York-centric application is chosen, the Empire State would chip in $250 million over the next five years.

That state money would include $200 million toward building and equipping a photonics prototyping and testing facility that would be located in Rochester, Zemsky wrote. It did not give any details.

Slaughter and U.S. Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand all have thrown their political weight behind the SUNY Research Foundation proposal, and Slaughter in December wrote a letter to the Cuomo administration in Albany, pushing it to commit money to the plan.

In a statement Thursday, Slaughter said, "The strong industry and state support we've built for our bid to secure the federal Institute for Manufacturing Innovation gives our application the competitive advantage needed to compete and win."

The deadline for proposals to be submitted was March 31. The final selection is expected to be made in June.

 

Photonics 101

Photonics, a cousin of optics, involves generating and controlling light waves and photons, the particles that make up light. And the optics and photonics industry has pointed to numerous applications with big potential economic impact, such as using light as a medical diagnostic and even treatment tool to better computer vision for more process automation in manufacturing to nano-photonic materials replacing the liquid crystal display and light emitting diode displays that are ubiquitous on phones, tablets, televisions and destktops.

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Original Source: Democrat and Chronicle