Co-operation in the business world is discussed more often than it is actually practiced. Nice idea, people say, but what happens if the other people you co-operate with start ripping you off, take your intellectual property and start their own competitive operations? However, when it’s a choice of united we stand or divided we fall, co-operation can be the business itself. Last month in Paris there were a couple of good examples of co-operation resulting in mutual benefits for the participants. The first was at the Opto 2002 show. By co-locating with measurement and electronics expos and conferences, these industries work symbiotically to share out visitors and overlapping technologies. Perhaps the same kind of beneficial concentrating effect could be applied to the itinerant ECOC event?
The second, more interesting example of co-operation was announced at Opto 2002. A new deal between two substantial French and German optical associations is to pave the way for the sharing of research information and the easing of access to each other’s previously hard-to-reach domestic markets.
France’s Optics Valley — which embraces optics and communications companies, research institutions, universities, start-up incubators and financial partners based in the Ile de France (around greater Paris) — has struck a deal with Optec BB (Berlin-Brandenburg), which brings together the corresponding types of optical players in the Berlin area. OV member companies include Alcatel, Thales, Sagem, Corning, Alsthom, Agilent, and Keopsys. Those in Optec BB include Infineon, U2T, Memscap, Adva Optical Networking, Osram, and Merge Optics.
Maurice Klein, Optics Valley’s CEO told Lightwave Europe, “We want to make sure that we plan developments as part of a European network. In Berlin there are two particular areas of technological development complementary to ours: lasers and biophotonics. So, with Optec BB we have agreed on three areas of co-operation: exchange of information; establishing business conventions; and trying to develop new firms or technology transfer projects together.”
Bernd Weidner, managing director of Optec BB, said, “We were founded two years ago. It’s a kind of mirror of Optics Valley. Our aim is to bring together the optical sciences and their applications. Optec BB also shows the competence of the Berlin-Brandenburg optics community. The contract we have signed with Optics Valley was the first step to take our interests abroad and to connect two successful areas of photonics competence.”
Looking beyond the ambitions of the OV–Optec deal, in the present climate there seem to be more and more examples of co-operation for mutual benefit. A notable area is the proliferation of multi-source agreements such as for transceivers, as detailed in our feature on pages 18–19. Also, Italian company Fastweb is offering its 200,000 customers private videoconferencing via a TV set through a co-operative effort of numerous comms players from Cisco to Siemens (page 26).
And while we’re on the subject of symbiosis, the UK’s Co-operative Bank is deploying a new fibre-based WAN (page 29) — and what could be more co-operative than that?
Matthew Peach Editor in Chief, Lightwave Europe