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NSF-Funded Grant Supports Regional Photonics Consortium

Newton, NJ – May 11, 2023 – Thorlabs is pleased to come together with multiple distinguished companies and universities throughout the Mid-Atlantic region to form a Princeton-led consortium that has received one of the first ever National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded Engines Development Grants. These awards, which provide up to two years of initial funding, are intended to boost photonics innovation, manufacturing, and workforce development within distinct geographic regions. They represent one of the flagship initiatives under NSF’s new Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships (TIP) directorate, which is funded through the CHIPS and Science Act.

Together, under the consortium, 12 academic institutions, 11 photonics companies, 4 economic development agencies, and 4 technology incubators located in NJ, NY, PA, and DE will join forces as part of a multi-state collaboration named Advancing Photonics Technologies. The collaboration is among 40+ first-round grant recipients, each aimed at creating a catalyst that fosters a strong technological ecosystem within a specific region of the United States. Through this first-round development grant, awardees will prepare proposals that lay the groundwork for future plans, develop a structure and scope, and establish partnerships to address societal challenges, promote economic growth and job creation, and cultivate regional talent. If the proposed plan moves forward, the Advancing Photonics Technologies collaboration would have the opportunity to receive up to $160 million of funding to implement the proposed plans within a 10-year horizon.

“Thorlabs is part of a worldwide photonics community, with a substantial regional ecosystem in and around New Jersey. Recently, we collaborated with Sussex County Community College to build out their Machine Tools and Optics Technician Programs; both are aimed at building and sustaining a skilled workforce here in Sussex County. Through the Advancing Photonics Technologies collaboration, I’m excited to see additional workforce development partnerships between employers of future talent and the academic institutions where they gain the necessary skills for future success,” said Jenn Cable, President of Thorlabs.

About Thorlabs: Thorlabs, a vertically integrated photonics products manufacturer, was founded in 1989 to serve the laser and electro-optics research market. As that market has spawned a multitude of technical innovations, Thorlabs has extended its core competencies in an effort to play an ever-increasing role to serve the Photonics Industry at the research end, as well as the industrial, life science, medical, and defense segments. The organization’s highly integrated and diverse manufacturing assets include semiconductor fabrication of Fabry-Perot, DFB, and VCSEL lasers; fiber towers for drawing both silica and fluoride glass optical fibers; MBE/MOCVD epitaxial wafer growth reactors; extensive glass and metal fabrication facilities; advanced thin film deposition capabilities; and optomechanical and optoelectronic shops.