Schumer & Gillibrand In January Announced That Rochester-SUNY Proposal Advanced to Final Round of Competition; Now, Defense Department is Evaluating Finalists in Competition for Federal Funds To Establish New “Institute for Manufacturing Innovation” with Focus on Photonics – Schumer & Gillibrand Say NYS Proposal Backed by UR, RIT, SUNY Poly, Others Would Create New Photonic Assembly & Packing Facility in Rochester


Photonics Hub Has Potential to Boost Manufacturing Innovation, Develop Companies And Commercial Products & Create Hundreds of Jobs in NY – Last Year, Schumer And Gillibrand Pushed Legislation to Establish Manufacturing Centers & Urged Administration to Establish Programs Focused on High-Tech Manufacturing & Create High-Tech Hubs in Rochester And Around The Country


Schumer, Gillibrand to DOD: As A Global Center of Excellence in the Field, Rochester and New York should  Win Federal Funds to Build New Photonics Hub

Today, U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand urged the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) to select the joint proposal led by New York Polytechnic Institute (SUNY Poly) with the University of Rochester (UR) and Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) in the final round of the administration’s new Integrated Photonics Institute for Manufacturing Innovation (IP-IMI) program. Schumer and Gillibrand explained that, in October 2014, the Obama Administration launched a new competition to award $110 million in federal funding, that must be matched by at least $110 million in non-federal funding, to create a new, high-tech Institute for Manufacturing Innovation (IMI) focused on the photonics industry. In January of this year, the joint application developed between SUNY, UR, RIT, and other consortium partners based in other states including California and Massachusetts was selected as a finalist. Prior to this announcement, Schumer and Gillibrand urged the DOD, which is leading the competition, to advance this proposal from New York to the final round. Today, in a letter to the DOD, Schumer and Gillibrand urged the feds to select the proposal submitted by SUNY Poly in conjunction with UR and RIT, which would allow them to partner with dozens of industrial leaders, academic institutions, and government and trade organizations, to leverage the region’s existing technical expertise in optics and imaging to develop new technologies in the field of photonics. Schumer and Gillibrand cited that Rochester is home of the world’s greatest concentration of expertise in photonics, optics and imaging, making it the perfect location to headquarter this effort. The DOD is expected to make its final selections in June 2015.

“Rochester is home to the world’s greatest concentration of companies, university programs, and expertise in the field of photonics, and this proposed partnership between the University of Rochester, Rochester Institute of Technology, and SUNY Polytechnic Institute would further position Rochester as a global leader in this cutting-edge industry,” said Senator Schumer. “Being selected to lead the country’s photonics hub would be a real game-changer for Rochester and Upstate, and I will continue to push the DOD to choose this application. The Rochester-SUNY application has already become a finalist and made it to the last round, so we are pushing to get this over the finish line. This kind of funding has the potential to stimulate the workforce, transform the local economy, and create jobs, jobs, jobs throughout the region. There is no better place than Rochester and Upstate New York to start building and strengthening a new center for photonics innovation, and I will continue to fight on behalf of this proposal.”


“This funding would help stimulate the Upstate economy, create jobs in the region and bring high-tech innovation to Rochester and beyond,” said Senator Gillibrand. “The cutting-edge research and training at the University of Rochester, Rochester Institute of Technology and SUNY Polytechnic Institute, positions New York as a significant leader in the global photonics industry. I will continue to do everything possible to support this application to establish the proposed Manufacturing Innovation Institute, ensuring New York remains at the forefront in the development and manufacturing of new technologies in the photonics industry.”

Photonics is a type of science that incorporates the generation, emission, transmission and amplification of light, usually involving optics. This light is used for products such as lasers and telecommunications, and it is an area of expertise for Rochester. Moreover, photonics can be used to create new breakthrough technologies like Photonic Integrated Circuits that use light to move data on a computer chip.  This research would create a new generation of photonic integrated circuits that could one day drive everything from smartphones to medical devices boosting the power and speed of these electronic devices. Schumer and Gillibrand stated that leading institutions, business, and economic development organizations such as University of Rochester, Rochester Institute of Technology and others came together in order to pursue an IMI to further grow the Upstate New York photonics industry. SUNY Polytechnic, the Senators noted, is a significant partner in this effort due to its expertise in nanoscale electronics, the packaging of chips, and photonics at its campuses in Albany, Utica and Canandaigua. If selected for this $110 million award, the research and investment being done in Rochester and cities across Upstate New York would expand, and would boost further business development and job creation. 

The Senators explained that the goal of the DOD-led IMI efforts is to leverage existing U.S. based expertise and industrial assets to launch advancements in new cutting edge technologies, like integrated photonics, to both create new domestic jobs and position the U.S. to be a global leader in the highly skilled industries that will dominate the world economy in the decades to come. Schumer and Gillibrand said that this IMI competition will seek to focus on developing an end-to-end photonics eco-system in the U.S. and bring together integrated design tools, automated packaging, and workforce development to support this burgeoning industry. The IP-IMI will be managed by a team led by SUNY Poly, UR, RIT with industrial leaders, academic partners, and government and trade organizations across several states including California and Massachusetts.   Under the proposed consortium, the IMI will be led by New York and the work will be performed across several partner facilities spanning the continental United States. 


The Senators said that the New York-led application offers many advantages. First, the New York State proposal would use non-federal matching funding from New York State and the various industry partners to create a new open-access photonic assembly and packaging facility in Rochester, NY. This funding would leverage the more than 24,000 workers across 100 companies that are based in the greater Rochester area, including 50 small and medium-sized companies currently manufacturing goods for the optics and photonics industrial supply chain. Second, the proposed IMI  would require little start-up time by largely locating and conducting research, development, and manufacturing at existing photonics member facilities in New York and at sites across the United States including California, Massachusetts, Arizona and elsewhere thus building on existing domestic assets to create new photonics technologies. Finally, Schumer and Gillibrand said the New York State-led program would well exceed the federal requirement to at least match the federal $110 million investment by a 1:1: ratio.


Schumer and Gillibrand have long been supporters of an institute that would bring together resources, tools and workforce development surrounding the integrated photonics industry. Just last year Schumer and Gillibrand, in partnership with Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) led the charge to create these kinds of unique manufacturing hubs – each intended to focus on its own specialized technology. In February 2013, Schumer joined local experts in Rochester’s optics technology and high-tech manufacturing industry at the Eastman Business Park to launch the first-ever plan to create a national network of manufacturing hubs, with the aim of bringing one to Upstate New York. Schumer and Gillibrand said that many areas in Upstate New York, including Rochester – with its Rochester Regional Photonics Cluster, Rochester Institute of Technology, and University of Rochester, in combination with SUNY Polytechnic's expertise in nanoscale electronics, the packaging of chips, and photonics – would be a perfect fit to secure funding to establish this new photonics IMI. In January, Schumer and Gillibrand announced that, following their push, the DOD had selected the joint New York application as one of the finalists. Today, Schumer and Gillibrand pushed the DOD to select the New York-led application so that it can begin to leverage its regional assets and create this state-of-the-art manufacturing hub.


As part of his budget for fiscal year 2013, President Obama recommended investing $1 billion to create a network of 15 manufacturing hubs called Institutes for Manufacturing Innovation (IMI). While an initial pilot hub center was opened in Ohio in 2012, ultimately the President urged Congress in his 2013 State of the Union Address to pass legislation authorizing the full network of centers. Schumer, in partnership with Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) introduced the first-ever legislation to create these unique manufacturing hubs – each intended to specialize in its own specialized technology – and this bill passed Congress at the end of last year.


In October 2014, the Obama Administration announced the competition managed by the Department of Defense (DOD) to establish an IMI on Integrated Photonics.  The IP-IMI will be expected to create an end-to-end innovation ‘ecosystem’ in the U.S. for integrated photonics; including responsive domestic integrated photonics chip fabrication foundry access, seamlessly integrated and standardized design tools, automated packaging, assembly and test, and workforce development. 


A copy of Senator Schumer and Senator Gillibrand’s letter to the Secretary of Defense appears below:


Dear Secretary Carter, 


We write to extend our full support for the application submitted by the Research Foundation for The State University of New York to establish a multi-state Integrated Photonics Institute for Manufacturing Innovation (IP-IMI) and ask that you give it your highest consideration. 


This proposal represents the strongest, most powerful collaboration and commitment from the nation’s leading talent and capabilities from both industry and academia in integrated photonics across fifteen states. While headquartered in New York – home to the nation’s largest and oldest concentration of photonics companies, the  partnership  has lead institutions in California and Massachusetts that is supported by industry, academic, and government institutions  across the country.  Together this consortium will harness the nation’s premiere capabilities and expertise to capture critical global manufacturing leadership in a technology that is both essential to national security and our economy.


New York, in particular, is home to a large skilled workforce and unique academic and private sector institutions engaged in photonics and advanced manufacturing.  From the State University of New York Polytechnic’s fully integrated CMOS Nanotech Complex in Albany,  to its Computer Chip Commercialization Center in Utica and its MEMS campus in Canandaigua to the Rochester optics, photonics, and imaging (OPI) cluster comprising 116 companies that employ 24,000 workers as well as top OPI education and research institutions like the University of Rochester and the Rochester Institute of Technology, New York is well positioned to is well positioned to lead this IMI. 


Moreover, together with its lead partner institutions, this proposal has garnered significant matching funding commitments, well exceeding the federal requirement to at least match the federal $110 million investment by a 1:1: ratio.


Again, we are pleased to give this application our strongest support and thank you in advance for giving this submission full and fair consideration for award. We write to extend our full support for the application submitted by the Research Foundation for The State University of New York to establish a multi-state Integrated Photonics Institute for Manufacturing Innovation (IP-IMI) and ask that you give it your highest consideration. 




Charles E. Schumer

United States Senator


Kirsten Gillibrand

United States Senator





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