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US-based Coherent to set up centre of excellence at IIT Madras Research Park

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Coherent Corp, the $5-billion US-based global leader in materials, networking and lasers for the industrial, communications, electronics and instrumentation markets, will open a centre of excellence (CoE) at the IIT Madras Research Park.

This will be the company’s first such centre and collaboration with an academic institution across multiple segments, said Giovanni Barbarossa, Chief Strategy Officer and President, Materials Segment, Coherent.

Coherent entered into a tripartite memorandum of understanding with Guidance Tamil Nadu and IITMRP to establish the CoE to focus on R&D of products and services for lasers, optical networking components and systems, EV batteries and compound semiconductor devices, said a release.

Staff strength

The American firm is one of the world’s largest photonics and compound semiconductor companies operating in 20 countries. As of June end, the company had nearly 26,000 employees of which nearly 2,400 were in research & development. It spent nearly $500 million on R&D and has over 3,000 patents, according to the company’s recent investors’ presentation.

Access to market and talent are two major reasons for setting up the centre in India. “We will look at setting up manufacturing opportunities in three years,” Barbarossa told newspersons after signing the agreement. “There is a 20-30 year opportunity for the company starting today,” he added.

It is important that the Indian government has a clear strategy to prefer not only Made in India but also Developed in India and give incentives to customers that Coherent will have, he said.

Away from China

“The opportunity in China, where the company has manufacturing, is shrinking. We are moving a lot of operations from China to the Philippines, Vietnam and Malaysia as we are dictated by our customers, particularly North America and Europe. The US government is also insisting on decreasing the dependency on the China supply chain. We are dealing with those policies. We have a large presence in China and have been affected quite a lot. We are reacting and changing our footprint. The investment in India is part of that global need to diminish our global dependency on China,” he said.

Vishnu Venugopalan, MD & CEO, Guidance Tamil Nadu, said the signing of the agreement is a milestone for three reasons. Coherent zeroing in on Chennai speaks volumes about the scales of economy at which the State of Tamil Nadu functions as it is a $300-billion strong economy. Tamil Nadu has always been a strong manufacturing hub with over 150 Fortune 500 companies having their footprint in the State in one form or the other. However, today’s agreement marks a significant milestone in moving up the value chain. This is critical for the State, which is aspiring to be an advanced manufacturing hub for not only India but entire South Asia, he said.

Tamil Nadu, and Chennai in particular, is emerging as a major R&D hub. This is something that the State government has been actively pursuing through various policies, including one on R&D, he said.

Ashok Jhunjhunwala, President, IITMRP, said nurturing talent is one of the key tasks of the research park. The Indian market is large, and will be far larger in a few years. This is a place where nearly 350 million cell phones are sold every year. The numbers are not going to come down. Your products can go in all kinds of things, he said. “You have to make affordable products without compromising on the quality,” he added.





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