On 28 June the DTI issued an Offer Letter to the UK Consortium for Photonics and Optics (UKCPO) for the Photonics Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN), an initiative aimed, among other things, at growing the industrial use of lasers in the UK. Our other partners in the KTN are the Photonics Cluster (PC-UK), the Welsh Optoelectronics Forum (WOF), the Scottish Optoelectronic Association (SOA), the Centre for Integrated Photonics; the UK Astronomy Technology Centre; the Mullard Space Science Laboratory; and TWI. A full time KTN Director will be appointed and based at the Institute of Physics, at their London headquarters.
The total grant for the project is £3.3M spread over 3 years, of which approximately £330k is allocated to AILU for providing a 'technology node' entitled 'Power Photonics'.
The principal project activities will include dissemination (including a wide range of events organised by regional bodies such as SOA, WOF and PC-UK) and the provision of hands-on assistance by 'technology translators'. We are already active in dissemination activities: through this magazine; our technical workshops; web site information; and telephone/email assistance. The assignment of consultants to act as 'technology translators' will, however, be a new and very welcome development.
On the topic of web-based dissemination, the new Forums and improved Virtual Laser Expert should stimulate communications between members and a further growth of members to non-members interactions.
You may be aware that Sira were going to lead this project but went into receivership on 16th March, just as the DTI offer letter was to be signed. The approval of funding some 3 months later owes a lot to Peter Batchelor, Ian Williams and their colleagues at DTI; their passionate belief in the KTN and support for the UKCPO helped to get the proposal back on track in a remarkably short time.
Participation in the Photonics KTN should be very good for AILU in terms of the quality of services we will be able to offer the UK industrial laser user community and industry at large. The first step will be to set up a KTN sub committee to manage this major activity within AILU. The offer letter from DTI gave 1st of July 2006 as the start date, so the clock is already ticking!