Europe's Photonics21 industry group has grown impressively over the last five years, and now lists more than 1600 members. And a capacity crowd of 300 attended its annual meeting in Brussels last week to see the association's "vision" handed over to European Commissioner Neelie Kroes (see http://optics.org/news/2/2/21). That was a largely symbolic gesture, but it is fair to say that Photonics21 has been instrumental in pushing photonics up the political agenda in Brussels.
In the past, that has translated to increased funding for research projects in the main. But when the new EU budget comes into force from 2013, that emphasis is going to change. Expect to see more market-led funding for innovation with a direct economic impact, for one thing.
As the Commission lays the groundwork for its new budget, the next few months will see some high-level discussions. It appears that European photonics has the ear of the politicians at the moment, in particular when it comes to solid-state lighting - now looks like the time to make the most of that opportunity.