Ir. Aart Willem Benschop
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Dutch Optics Centre (DOC) in Delft is the expertise centre for high-tech optics and optomechatronics in the Netherlands. At DOC, which is an initiative of TNO and TU Delft, 300 businesses are now on board, ready to cooperate on the development and/or production of high-tech optical and optomechanical products and instruments. This is 80 per cent of all businesses active under the banner of photonics. DOC provides a great deal of knowledge and expertise on which the entire industry, in the Netherlands and elsewhere, can draw. A clear and important link in the chain of international photonics hubs.
Evidence of the prominent position held by DOC was provided by the official visit today, 6 September by Bodo Ramelow, Minister-President of the German state of Thuringia to Dutch Optics Centre. Thuringia is Germany's optics hotspot. In the presence of Mr Ramelow, ASML, Fraunhofer, Friedrich Schiller University Jena, TNO, TU Delft and Zeiss signed a Memorandum of Understanding. In this statement of intent they established that as well as joint projects they will also provide for the training and exchange of photonics students. Speed is of the essence, a training plan in which the various disciplines in opto-electronics are described is nearing completion.
The photonics industry is growing rapidly. Worldwide, growth is estimated to be 40 per cent in the coming five years. This means that professionals are also in great demand. This is where the problem lies. Erik Ham of Dutch Optics Centre says that this enormous growth is resulting in a shortage in 'photonically' trained employees. "The possibilities are huge and we want to exploit them. With the agreement we will therefore be tackling this problem.”