Good Optics

Arizona Technology Council’s Largest Committee Also Among its Brightest

By Tiffany Kjos

The world’s oldest optics cluster, Optics Valley, was founded right here in Arizona more than 30 years ago. Today, its reach spans the globe.

Started as an independent organization, Optics Valley is now the Arizona Technology Council’s biggest committee, with more than 100 members.

“The committee fosters innovation, research and development in the field of optics and photonics, bringing together industry, academia and research institutions to collaborate on cutting-edge technologies, promote economic growth and create a hub for the optics industry,” said Karla Morales, VP of the council’s Southern Arizona Regional Office.

Its efforts over the past five years have been fueled by funding from the Small Business Administration Regional Innovation Cluster, which led to a workforce development initiative that resulted in the resurrection of an optics technician training program at Pima Community College. Optics Valley also has strong relationships with many University of Arizona endeavors, including the BIO5 Institute, Tech Launch Arizona and the Wyant College of Optical Sciences.

Also notably, the group is a founding member of the Global Photonics Alliance, made up of more than 50 optics clusters. 

“This greatly aids our international presence and the export business of our member companies,” said Optics Valley committee chair John Dennis, president of Strategy1.

And AZTC’s Optics Valley’s flagship program, Arizona Photonics Days, has been expanded to three days featuring presentations, company pitches and networking opportunities, with more than 200 local and international participants. The seventh annual event will be held Jan. 24-26 at the UA Tech Park.


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