Rochester tapped for $610M photonics center

Vice President Joe Biden joined Gov. Andrew Cuomo in Rochester to announce a $610 million center focused on photonics.

The Pentagon has selected a Rochester consortium to lead a $610 million research and manufacturing hub dedicated to photonics — the use of light in technology — that will bring thousands of jobs to the region.

Western New York already has about 100 companies working on optics and photonics, including firms focused on robotics, medical imaging, national security and other fields. Vice President Joe Biden joined Gov. Andrew Cuomo for the announcement, although the news had been leaked last week by U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, the New York Democrat. Biden took the gaffe in stride, telling the audience he was “in town to announce what’s already been announced.”

The project will be funded by $110 million in federal money, plus $500 million in state and private investment. The consortium includes the Rochester Institute of Technology, University of Rochester, State University of New York Polytechnic Institute, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Arizona and University of California at Santa Barbara.

“This announcement is proof that the best is yet to come for New York’s high-tech industries,” Cuomo said. “We’ve turned our economy around, we’re making the investments to keep it going, and this new Institute is another example of how Rochester is the vision for the economy of the future.”

New York’s bid topped finalists from Southern California and central Florida. President Obama’s announced the competition last fall as a way to strengthen U.S. manufacturing.

“The photonics center we are now bringing to Rochester will harness the power of the Defense Department and the prowess of Rochester’s 24,000 employee-strong photonics industry and focus it like a laser beam to launch new industries, technologies, and jobs,” Sen. Charles Schumer added in a statement.