The events of the Photonics Week, which started with the opening of the Joensuu Photonics Center on Monday 7 November, saw over 350 researchers, company representatives and interested city residents.

Photonics is a fast-growing industry that enables solutions to the global challenges of our time. The opening of the Joensuu Photonics Center means stronger networking between the university, photonics companies, and experts in the field. The Photonics Center creates a growing photonics community in Joensuu, by offering companies shared equipment, facilities, cleanrooms, experts, and networks. In the fast-growing photonics field, there is a high demand for experts. The Photonics Center provides you with the opportunity to meet your future employee, just as they are finishing their studies.  In the first phase, the Photonics Center includes Dispelix, which has recently been awarded as Company of the Year by Photonics Finland, as well as the fast growing ALD technology company s Chipmetrics.

To officially open the Joensuu Photonics Center, a silk ribbon was cut by Academic Rector Tapio Määttä from the University of Eastern Finland, Joensuu City Mayor Kari Karjalainen, the President of the Academy of Finland Paula Eerola, CEO of Business Joensuu Tomi Haring and the Managing Director of Suomen Yliopistokiinteistöt Sanna Sianoja.

Cooperation across sectoral boundaries

Photonics applications enable new innovations and more efficient operating methods in several sectors. As part of the Photonics Week programme, a Forest&Photonics 2022 event was organised, in which forest and technology experts and companies had the opportunity to network, create new cooperation, as well as share challenges, opportunities and solutions concerning topical themes. This year’s speeches highlighted the application of LIDARs, i.e. light detection and ranging, for example, in the prevention of forest fires and the tracking of tree mortality.  In the past, LIDARs have been used for forest inventory, but this Forest&Photonics discussed the use of LIDARs more extensively, for example, in the prevention of forest fires and the observation of the condition of trees, as well as the collection of information on the surrounding forest, to support the work of forest machine drivers.

– There is a clear demand for events that utilise sectoral interfaces. I believe that introducing photonics technology to the forest sector, for example in the form of LIDARs and spectroscopy, could be a very topical and interesting entity in the following year, says Juha Purmonen, executive director of Photonics Finland and development manager at Business Joensuu.

Juha Purmonen at Forest&Photonics 2022.

Highlighting top expertise is a prerequisite for the success of our region

Joensuu has conducted photonics research for over 50 years, and owing to the long-term work of the recent years, our city has developed into a major photonics pioneer at European level: an ecosystem in which research and business together build top expertise and vitality in our region. Micro- and nanophotonics have been profiled as the speciality of our area, and their applications are utilised, for example, in the screens of augmented reality and in various mobile devices, such as e-books and sports watches. In addition, the region has an exceptionally strong centre of expertise in hyperspectral imaging.

In his speech at the Photonics Center opening, Region Mayor Markus Hirvonen emphasised the need for our region to stand out and specialise, in order to remain competitive; to be a world leader in our own field of excellence. The development of this excellence will continue in the next phase of Photonics Center’s operations, for which the development of facilities, cleanrooms and shared equipment is already been mapped. Joensuu is the leader of a group project to be launched in 2023. Its task is to strengthen the photonics innovation ecosystem in Finland, by promoting co-creation between cities. Next autumn, study opportunities will also expand further, as the university launches a Master of Science degree in photonics. The UEF (University of Eastern Finland) Department of Photonics is involved in the Academy of Finland’s eight-year Photonics Research and Innovation PREIN flagship, with the impact of photonics as its main responsibility.

At Photonics week it was possible to get to know different applications of photonics.

Two representatives from Joensuu elected to decide on photonics policies in Europe

Joensuu’s position as a leading European photonics city will be further strengthened, as Professor Jyrki Saarinen from the University of Eastern Finland and Executive Director of Photonics Finland Juha Purmonen were elected as Finnish representatives to the Board of Stakeholders of the European Union’s photonics technology platform Photonics21.

Photonics21 coordinates the priorities of photonics research and innovation in Europe, with the aim of strengthening Europe’s leadership in the development and application of photonics technology, in areas such as ICT, lighting, manufacturing, health technology, security, and education. The Photonics21 Board of Stakeholders is the highest decision-making body of Photonics21, in which at least half of the one hundred members must be representatives of companies. The Board of Stakeholders has a significant role, for example, when deciding on guidelines for EU funding.