With the application of photonics technologies we are helping to solve societal challenges as well as to create new industrial activity. This is described in the National Agenda Photonics , which was handed to State Secretary Mona Keijzer on 13 July of this year. This agenda forms an invitation to businesses, knowledge institutions and government authorities to participate in the acceleration of photonics. A successful positioning in the European and worldwide market requires that the Netherlands presents itself as a single coherent photonics region. A single port of call for the photonics initiatives in the Netherlands, this has been heeded!
At Dutch Optics Centre (DOC), the expertise centre for high-tech optics and optomechatronics initiated by TNO and TU Delft, 300 businesses are now on board, ready to cooperate on the development and/or production of high-tech optical and optomechanical products and instruments. This is 80 per cent of all businesses active under the banner of photonics. DOC provides a great deal of knowledge and expertise on which the entire industry, in the Netherlands and elsewhere, can draw. A clear and important link in the international photonics hub.
For example, DOC is currently working with a Dutch company to adapt for use in kidney dialysis a technology that was once created for taking climate measurements from space. Work is also underway on applications for fibre sensors in earthquake prone areas to enable the monitoring of critical infrastructure (bridges, tunnels).
New, major challenge
The photonics industry is growing rapidly. Worldwide, growth is estimated to be 40 per cent in the coming five years. This means that professionals are also in great demand. This is where the problem lies. Erik Ham of Dutch Optics Centre says that this enormous growth is resulting in a shortage in ‘photonically’ trained employees. “The possibilities are huge and we want to exploit them. So we are going to tackle this problem.” How?
Today, Thursday 6 September a Memorandum of Understanding will be signed during the visit of Minister-President Bodo Ramelow of Thuringia to TNO and TU Delft. The German state of Thuringia is regarded in Europe as the beating heart of Europe’s optics region. In this statement of intent by Asml, Zeiss, Fraunhover IOF, Frederich Schiller Universitat, Tu-Delft and TNO have committed to providing for the training and exchange of photonics students. In addition, DOC will establish cooperation with commercial parties prepared to provide optical courses for employees in the high-tech sector. The various courses and training programmes will be provided by industry, TU Delft, Friedrich Schiller University and, of course, by TNO.
Businesses and students who would like to receive more information or who wish to sign up can contact Erik Ham of Dutch Optics Centre.