Photonics West 2018 in Review: Highlights from the Scottish Optoelectronics Association
By Stephen Taylor, CEO of Technology Scotland

Every year Photonics West bring together some of the leading figures in the industry, with attendees and exhibitors getting an exclusive insight into the latest technologies, the chance to meet new business connections, and to catch up with old friends.

In addition to end-users, the conference welcomes over 1,200 companies showcasing the many ingredients needed for global photonic solutions, including materials, optics, lasers, and test and measurement equipment.

I was delighted to attend the event in person for the first time to represent the Scottish Optoelectronics Association (SOA), a Special Interest Group of Technology Scotland (TS), originally founded in 1994.

We were invited to exhibit alongside one of our members, QuantIC, giving us an excellent opportunity to see some of the new imaging technology developed through its industrial partnership projects. Exhibits included the Gas sight camera with M Squared Lasers, Fresnel cone technology with Gooch and Housego, and the Quanticam based Photon Counting FLIM Camera with Horiba Scientific.

Along with QuantIC, the SOA also joined forces with the UK Department for International Trade to combine a whisky tasting with their annual drinks reception and attract an even bigger crowd. On the night, this comprised over 300 people from around the world. Unsurprisingly, our whisky didn’t last long, and we welcomed attendees from across Europe, North America, Asia and Australia.

During the day, the conference gave us the opportunity to meet and explore opportunities with a range of photonics clusters, including Australia, Finland, Canada, France, Mexico, Ireland, and several from both the USA and Germany. It was also a pleasure to speak on behalf of Scottish Photonics at the SPIE Cluster Reception, where informal discussions took place to form a Global Photonics Alliance (GPA), of which the SOA aims to be a founder member. Active membership of the GPA can only help to boost the profile of Scottish photonics, nationally and internationally, and we look forward to working closely with the new alliance.

Above all, attending Photonics West reiterated how crucial global photonics is to the world today. Ahead of its landmark 25th anniversary next year, we are proud to manage the SOA and represent a sector in Scotland that continues to be at the cutting edge of innovation, with leadership in areas such as laser, optical transceivers, Li-Fi and quantum technologies.

If you want to learn more about the SOA, or become a member, click here to find out more.