By Nathan Rudyk

Ever since Alexander Graham Bell pronounced that his "photophone" was his most important invention after he proved in 1880 that he could transmit sound on a beam of light, photonics has been instrinsically linked to the telecommunications industry. Thanks to Bell, photonics companies had a great run in the 20th century with fiber optic applications. Yet 21st century photonics entrepreneurs may well owe their success to the advances they can produce in cleantech.

This week we've been all about that opportunity. Working with three Global Advantage cities (Ottawa, Berlin, Tucson) that represent over 500 photonics companies, market2world has been alerting the international photonics and cleantech media to the fact that the trillion-dollar cleantech opportunity offers fantastic promise for photonics technology.

Some facts:

  • According to the Cleantech Group LLC, cleantech is now the largest category for venture capital investment in the world, accounting for 27 per cent of all venture capital based on Q2, 2009 numbers, and global demand for clean technology solutions is estimated at $1 trillion
  • A November, 2009 Ernst and Young survey confirms that cleantech spending is largely immune from the global economic slowdown, with 85 percent of 308 executives working across all industry sectors planning to accelerate their company’s response to climate change issues compared with two years ago.
  • Two cleantech applications for photonics technology include photovoltaics, a $15 billion market with an annual growth rate of 25%, and light-emitting diode (HB-LED) and organic light-emitting diode (OLED) lamps, a $5 billion market being spurred on by the U.S. Department of Energy’s goal of a 50% reduction in energy use for lighting by 2025.

It's fair to say the Ottawa photonics cluster is "on trend". This week the Province of Ontario announced its investing $3.6 million to support Ottawa's Group IV Semiconductor Inc. in its quest to use photonics to transform lighting in homes and businesses. The company's technology could lead to low-cost light bulbs that will use up to 90 per cent less electricity than regular bulbs and last much longer, significantly cutting greenhouse gas emissions and reducing the waste burden on landfills. And another star Ottawa's photonics star, Cyrium Technologies Inc., was recently named a Next 10 Emerging Cleantech Leader by Corporate Knights Magazine. Cyrium manufactures a line of high-efficiency concentrator photovoltaic (CPV) cells for land-based, commercial solar applications that are expected to outperform all commercially available CPV cells.

You can learn more from our press releases here and here, and of course, in upcoming news articles as we build cleantech photonics momentum with Global Advantage cities.

(Nathan Rudyk is President and CEO with market2world communications inc., Ottawa, Canada's tech public relations and product marketing agency.)

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