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News from EPIC By Carlos Lee, director general, EPIC

What role do small companies play in lobbying and advocacy?


’m based in Brussels where there are about 2,000 industry associations. Many associations I meet represent large economical sectors where most of the market is led by big multinationals. Their typical association would have around 20 staff and a budget of several million Euros, its membership fees would range from €20,000 to €100,000, and more. The photonics industry, on the other hand, is composed of thousands of companies, and most of these are small and even very small, in my experience. This is why I believe in the importance of all companies pulling together, creating critical mass, and engaging in initiatives of common interest and benefit to the industry. But most entrepreneurs I talk to, get up in the

morning confronted by issues with payroll and financial income. They then spend the rest of the day worrying about technological challenges, development of leading products, finding customers, and all the other bumps in the road. Few of them will have time to deal with aspects such as industry regulations, industrial policy, access to skilled talent, and other topics related to long-term sustainability of the industry at large. Yet, one day these companies may have to hire specialised staff, may be affected directly or indirectly by regulations such as REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals) or RoHS (Restriction of Hazardous Substances). These companies may be interested in seeking public support for the expansion of their operations to match an offer received abroad. So industry associations need to prepare the terrain and convince companies

EPIC Events

EPIC entrepreneurship day 15-16 September; Berlin, Germany

EPIC workshop on global opportunities to finance research and innovation 21 September; Cannes, France

EPIC meeting on lasers 25 November; Mainz-Hechtsheim, Germany

EPIC workshop on spectroscopy applications 26 November; Apeldoorn, The Netherlands | @electrooptics

Third on the left is EPIC member Andres Cifuentes, director of engineering at ASE Optics in Spain. He was advocating the photonics industry at a vision and road- mapping workshop in Brussels on critical raw materials (13 May 2014)


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EPIC member Marc Desmulliez, director at Heriot- Watt University in the UK, moderates a discussion on education, training and skills for the electronic/photonic components industry (5 May 2014)

to get involved early-on and provide support on specific topics as needed. For an industry association, financial independence is important and funding should therefore mainly originate from membership fees rather than public subsidies.

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EPIC member Håkan Karlsson, CEO of Cobolt in Sweden, speaks on the importance of photonics (7 May 2014)

Once an association relies on grants from the government, its lobbying capability is weakened – you don’t tend to bite the hand that feeds! With 160 members, the European Photonics Industry Consortium is financially sustainable and does not rely on public authorities, events, or other typical association activities for income. Being financed exclusively through fees from member companies, we are able to focus our attention on delivering membership value. I am delighted to see that EPIC members frequently engage in advocating the photonics industry. How is your company participating in lobbying and promoting the photonics industry? Are you looking for opportunities? Consider and, which need the support of your company!

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