ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — New Mexico lost its bid this year to become a federally-backed “center of excellence” for optics and photonics, but local officials, researchers and private investors say momentum is still building to turn the state into a global leader in light-based technologies.
That momentum shone brightly Friday at a University of New Mexico conference on optics and photonics attended by some 500 people. UNM organized the event to strengthen public-private collaboration in the development and commercialization of new technologies following its failure to win federal funding for an integrated photonics manufacturing hub that would have included UNM and universities in three other states.
At the conference, a 12-member panel of academics, national laboratory scientists, private investors and state and local officials discussed the opportunities for capitalizing on the national attention generated by UNM’s participation in the federal competition.
The state is now recognized as an optics and photonics leader, said Deirdre Firth, City of Albuquerque deputy director for economic development. That includes breakthroughs in everything from superfast laser communications and defense systems to light-based medical diagnostics and treatment.