Posted: November 14, 2008

SPIE Photonics Innovation Summit speakers illuminate paths to technology's R+D success

(Nanowerk News) The modern world is the result of innovations developed under a model that no longer works, and companies that want to progress need to employ a new paradigm of open collaboration, reiterated speakers at the well-received SPIE Photonics Innovation Summit on 6 November in the San Francisco-Silicon Valley area.
Steve Eglash, Event Chair, said the event was unique in presenting the science of innovation in the context of the past, present, and future of three dynamic fields: solar energy, biophotonics, and solid state lighting.
"The Photonics Innovation Summit is an extension of SPIE's ongoing mission to foster connections among researchers, applications inventors, system developers, and funding sources," said SPIE CEO Eugene Arthurs. "SPIE conferences and exhibitions serve as forums for presenting technology advances that help fuel the economy and provide solutions to the many challenges facing today's world in areas such as infrastructure, sustainable energy and lighting, and medical advances."
The upcoming SPIE Photonics West symposium, with 1,100 exhibiting companies and 17,500 total attendance, is an example of that synergy. The annual event will be held 24-29 January at the San Jose, CA, Convention Center.
The Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) and the Center for Executive Education and the Lester Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation at the University of California, Berkeley (UCB), cooperated in organizing the SPIE Photonics Innovation Summit.
Among insights shared by speakers, John Kao, author of "Innovation Nation," defined innovation as "creativity applied to purpose that generates value," and said that success now requires blending different types of knowledge.
Henry Chesbrough, author of "Open Innovation" and Executive Director of the Center for Open Innovation at UCB, said success in today's world is driven by seeking technology and ideas from outside as well as inside a company, and spinning out products for new as well as established markets.
Allowing and even celebrating failure as well as success are attributes of companies that are successful innovators, Robert Byer, William R. Kenan, Jr., Professor of Applied Physics at Stanford University.
Marc Stanley, Director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Technology Innovation Program (TIP), detailed how that funding program for early-stage, high-risk, high-reward research projects aims to strengthen the United States' ability to be competitive globally.
John Lushetsky, Program Manager of the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technology Program (SETP), outlined SETP's goal to drive the cost of solar electricity to grid parity by 2015.
Jennifer Ernst, Director of Business Development at PARC, said that the "cornerstone of accelerating innovation" is "getting close to the market as early as possible."
Terry Jester, Principal at Hudson Clean Energy Partners, described differences among the four PV systems currently competing in the market -- crystalline silicon, flat plate thin film, flexible thin film, and high concentration PV systems -- and noted that crystalline silicon had almost 90% of market share through 2007.
Breakout sessions included:
On solar energy,
  • Richard Swanson, SunPower
  • Peter Borden, Applied Materials
  • Scott Elrod, PARC.
  • On biophotonics,
  • David Benaron, Spectros Corporation
  • Jean-Luc Vanderheyden, GE Healthcare
  • Barbara Paldus, Finesse.
  • On next-generation lighting,
  • Peter Visser, OLLA Project, Philips Lighting
  • George Craford, Lumileds.
  • SPIE will publish available content from presentations at the SPIE Photonics Innovation Summit on the online SPIE Newsroom. Slides will be available on 14 November, and podcasts from audio recordings by 21 November.
    About SPIE
    SPIE is the international optics and photonics society founded in 1955 to advance light-based technologies. Serving the interests of its more than 188,000 active constituents representing 138 different countries, SPIE acts as a catalyst for collaboration among technical disciplines for information exchange, continuing education, publishing opportunities, patent precedent, and career and professional growth. As the organizer and sponsor of approximately 25 major conferences and education programs annually in North America, Europe, Asia, and the South Pacific, SPIE provides publishing, speaking, and learning opportunities on emerging technologies. SPIE contributes more than $1.6 million annually in scholarships, grants, and other programs supporting research and education around the world. For more information, visit
    Source: SPIE
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