In the heart of Montreal, the global photonics community convened for Photonics North, the international conference on the application of photonic technology, and celebrated the official launch of the new Canadian Photonic Industry Consortium (CPIC).
Following a merger of the Canadian Institute for Photonic Innovations (CIPI) and Canadian Photonic Consortium (CPC), CPIC combines the strengths of these organizations to further increase the competitiveness of Canada’s photonics industry. By connecting photonics companies to new knowledge, investment and end-customers, CPIC aims to accelerate the application and adoption of Canadian photonic technologies across all sectors of the global economy. This promises to help increase the productivity and profitability of these firms, and create new opportunities to exploit the $330 billion global photonics market.
Officially established in April 2012 with leadership from industry, CPIC brings together 10 inaugural member organizations across Canada. These include small to medium-sized firms that develop novel photonic technologies; multinational corporations that can put these innovations to work; and research centres that support photonics R&D and commercialization. These organizations have fostered different types of photonics expertise and span several end-user sectors.
CPIC will address the specific needs of Canadian photonics companies, including access to financing, new technologies, talent and commercial opportunities. As a first priority, CPIC will connect photonic firms to prospective customers in communications; energy and lighting; life sciences and health care; defence and security; transport; and manufacturing. To kick start this activity, the consortium is currently planning initial workshops such as Photonics for Shipbuilding to be hosted in Halifax, Nova Scotia and Vancouver, BC in October, 2012. CPIC will also help photonics innovators tap into research funding opportunities with the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC).
CPIC is undertaking a critical mandate as Canada’s photonics industry plays an essential role in the national economy. Comprised of 450 firms that collectively employ more than 20,300 highly skilled people, the photonics sector generated $4.4 billion in sales in 2008. Over the last four years, 74 percent of these firms reported revenue growth while 65 percent of companies reported an increase in the number of employees. Moreover, the global photonics sector represents a wealth of opportunity for Canadian firms with a global market with an estimated value of $330 billion in 2008.
The consortium aims to grow its membership by 100 percent before the end of the year to further broaden its reach and impact. In support of this goal, CPIC will also establish partnerships with international counterparts such as Photonics 21 and the European Photonics Industry Consortium (Europe); the Knowledge Transfer Networks (UK); and the International Society for Optical Engineering (US).
“CPIC aims to provide Canadian photonics companies with an edge over competitors around the world,” said Mr. Robert Corriveau, President and CEO of CPIC. “We aim to help these firms fully capitalize on every facet of our national photonics innovation system. This includes facilitated access to photonic 2
knowhow and talent, prospective users in different sectors; and technological solutions that address their needs. By helping companies to navigate this landscape and build the right relationships, CPIC will drive the continued growth and success of Canada’s photonics industry.”
The oil and gas sector represents an important receptor for Canadian photonic technologies, motivating the Petroleum Technology Alliance Canada (PTAC) to join CPIC as a member. “We are pleased to be among the inaugural members of CPIC,” said Dr. Soheil Asgarpour, President of the PTAC. “As we strive to help Canada become a global hydrocarbon energy leader, this consortium will enable us to engage photonics experts, and explore how these technologies could address some of the key challenges facing this sector. These future applications will promote greater innovation, thereby delivering benefits to technology providers and end users while helping sustainable development of Canada’s world class hydrocarbon resources.”
Dr. John Tulip, Technical Director of Boreal Laser, an Edmonton-based CPIC member company, understands how photonics can resolve critical issues in the highly competitive energy industry: “With support from the CIPI in 2010, we developed a novel laser targeted to oil and gas companies. It uses light to detect, monitor and measure hazardous gases, and generated the data required to guide corrective action and improve the safety of this sector. With several purchase orders in the pipeline, we now aim to broaden our market reach and build a global business. CPIC’s networking and knowledge exchange will help us to identify and establish relationships with future customers in multiple sectors.”