January 29, 2015

Schumer, Gillibrand Announce Rochester-SUNY Proposal Will Advance To Final Round Of Competition For $110 Million To Create New National Institute Of Photonics – Senators Have Supported Effort & Say Rochester Is Well-Positioned To Win, As Home Of World’s Greatest Concentration Of Expertise In Optics, Photonics, Imaging

DOD Now Evaluating Final Round of Proposals for Fed 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

Today, U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand announced the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) has selected the joint proposal led by the University of Rochester (UR) and the State University of New York Polytechnic Institute (SUNY Poly) to advance to the final application 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 $110M in federal funding, that must be matched by at least $110M in non-federal funding, to create a new, high-tech Institute for Manufacturing Innovation (IMI) focused on the photonics industry.

The proposal submitted on behalf of New York State is led by SUNY Poly in conjunction with UR, and would allow them to partner with over 40 industrial leaders, academic institutions, and government and trade organizations, including Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), to leverage the region’s existing technical expertise in optics and imaging to develop new technologies in the field of photonics. Earlier this year, Schumer and Gillibrand urged the DOD, which is leading the competition, to advance New York’s proposal to the final round. Now, with the proposal having advanced to the final round, Schumer and Gillibrand urged DOD to select Rochester’s application, citing that Rochester is home of the world’s greatest concentration of expertise in photonics, optics and imaging. The DOD announced that second-round applicants will be allowed to submit full and final applications, which are due March 31. The final selection is expected to be made 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 and SUNY Polytechnic Institute would further position Rochester as a global leader in this cutting-edge industry,” said Senator Schumer. “Being selected as the country’s photonics hub would be a real game-changer for Rochester, and I will continue to push the DOD to choose this application. It has the potential to galvanize the workforce, transform the local economy, and create jobs, jobs, jobs throughout the region. There is no better place to start building and strengthening a transformative domestic base for photonics innovation than in Rochester and Upstate New York.”

"Rochester would be the perfect home for the new National Institute of Photonics, and this selection to move the final phase of consideration shows that Upstate New York's strong community of manufacturers and innovators is prime for these types of investments," said Senator Gillibrand. "When Senator Schumer and I wrote to the Department of Defense urging them to locate this exciting program Upstate, we knew our brilliant students, researchers, teachers and professors, along with an unmatched workforce, would help move our nation to the forefront of this field. I will continue to do all I can to secure this Institute for New York so we have opportunity to lead the way to more high-tech jobs Upstate and across the country."

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 harnessed 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 could boost 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 during the final round of applications, the research and investment being done in Rochester and cities across Upstate New York would expand exponentially, and would encourage further business development and job creation. 

The Senators explained that the goal of the DOD-led IMI effort 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. While the IP-IMI will be managed by a team led by SUNY Poly and UR, 40 industrial leaders, academic partners, and government and trade organizations have committed as partners on this proposal and the work will be performed across several partner facilities spanning the continental United States. 

The Senators said that the SUNY Poly-UR 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 Rochester application 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 exceed the federal requirement to at least match the federal $110 million investment by a 1:1: ratio. Through its first five years of operation the IP-IMI will have committed funds to achieve a cost share in excess of 4:1 and moreover by year eight, the IP-IMI is expected to have achieved funding to result in a 5:1 cost share 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.

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 initial letter to the Secretary of Defense appears below:

Dear Secretary Hagel,

We write in strong support of the proposal submitted by the Research Foundation for The State University of New York for the establishment of the Integrated Photonics Institute for Manufacturing Innovation (IP-IMI) led by the State University of New York Polytechnic Institute (SUNY Poly) in conjunction with the University of Rochester (UR) and ask that you select it for advancement to the final application round.  The goal of the Department of Defense led IMI effort is to leverage existing U.S. based expertise and industrial assets to launch leapfrog 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.  While the IP-IMI will be managed by a team led by SUNY Poly and UR, 40 industrial leaders, academic partners, and government and trade organizations have committed as partners on this proposal and work will be performed across several partner facilities spanning the continental United States. 

This proposal offers many distinct advantages.  First, the IP-IMI would use dedicating non-federal matching funding to create a new open-access photonic assembly and packaging facility in Rochester, NY to leverage the internationally recognized photonics research and industrial capacity centered in Rochester which is home to the world’s greatest concentration of companies, universities programs, and expertise in optics, photonics, and imaging.  More than 24,000 workers across more than 100 companies are based in the greater Rochester, NY area, including 50 small and medium-sized companies manufacturing goods for the optics and photonics industrial supply chain. With leadership from UR, the region has now competitively won four major federal job initiatives to drive investment and growth in this sector. And building on existing assets like the Rochester Institute of Technology’s Center for Electronics Manufacturing and Assembly and the Semiconductor and Microsystems Fabrication Lab, and the SUNY Poly Smart System Technology and Commercialization Center campus in Canandaigua, this new assembly and packaging facility will advance state-of-the-art technology and processes in photonic assembly and packaging.

Secondly, the IP-IMI will require little start-up time by largely locating and conducting research, development, and manufacturing at existing IP-IMI member facilities in New York, including  SUNY Poly (Albany, Utica, and Canandaigua), University of Rochester, and Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), as well as partner sites including in California, Massachusetts, Arizona.  As a result, this proposal will build existing domestic assets to create a new photonics innovation ecosystem with a geographical reach across the entire U.S. 

Third, the IP-IMI exceeds the federal requirement to at least match the federal $110 million investment by a 1:1: ratio. Through its first five years of operation, the IP-IMI will have committed funds to achieve a cost share in excess of 4:1 and moreover by year eight, the IP-IMI is expected to have achieved a 5:1 cost share ratio.

This proposal will uniquely meet the goals of the IMI to create an integrated photonics chip fabrication foundry capability, integrate and standardize design tools, fabricate materials, automate new packaging processes, and validate and test advancements, all while serving as a hub to foster workforce development and education in the high-tech skills needed to compete in this industry.  This new IP-IMI will be transformative in enabling now disparate and fragmented entities across the U.S. industrial and academic landscape to join together on a common goal to create the breakthroughs in integrated photonics that will make the U.S. the global leader in the leading technologies and products that will dominate the global economy.  Likewise, this proposal will ensure the DoD will benefit from and foster the creation of a cutting edge domestic integrated photonics capability important to our military capacity.

Again, we are pleased to give this proposal our strongest support and respectfully request you select it and invite the offerors to submit a full application in the March 31, 2015 final application round.  Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Charles E. Schumer

United States Senator

Kirsten Gillibrand

United States Senator