30 July 2012

Going green: Asian directions for photonics

Governments in Asia, Europe, North America, and elsewhere are finding new ways to prioritize their efforts to support optics technologies and industries and to advance their own national competitiveness and economic success.

A recent article in the SPIE Professional magazine surveyed the latest developments around the world. This post shares some of the magazine's report on what is happening in Asia, where a major focus is on efficient energy. Future posts will focus on Europe and North America.

Asian governments have taken varied approaches in their support of optics and photonics industries.

Last year, the Chinese government announced the 12th iteration of its Five-Year Plan for National Economic and Social Development. The plan, which runs through 2015, includes a focus on the economic value of seven “strategic emerging industries.” Recent reports have estimated that the Chinese government will spend $1.5 trillion US on subsidies in the fields of biotechnology, new energy, high-end equipment manufacturing, energy conservation and environmental protection, clean-energy vehicles, new materials, and next-generation IT.

The government support includes tax incentives and price subsidies for the solar energy industry in China. Additionally, the government has pledged to spend from 1.75% to 2.2% of its GDP on research and development and work toward increasing the number of patents to 3.3 per every 10,000 persons by 2015. This anticipated increase would double the number approved in 2010.

Taiwan has created three core science parks designed to be magnets for high-tech industries. The parks combine research, production, work, and recreational facilities and have helped Taiwan maintain its competitive research advantage, especially with LCD panels, LEDs, and photovoltaic systems.

According to the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report 2009-2010, Taiwan ranked sixth among 133 economies worldwide in the “state of cluster development” index.

The first park, Hsinchu Science Park, was created in 1980, followed by two more in 1996 and 2003. Eight more are slated for construction. With $2.53 billion US invested in Hsinchu Park by the Taiwanese government since its creation, a total of 440 companies are operating within the park, employing 132,161 persons by the end of 2009. Nearly $27 billion US was generated that year by its companies.

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