Photonics is a Key Enabling Technology but it is largely ignored and misunderstood by most people even at the highest levels. Because of this, a large part of our activities are related in a way or another to advocacy. This is an everyday activity and we have to explain this word photonics and why we prefer to use it rather than the word optics. Also, most photonic devices are put in a ”black box” and therefore not visible. Moreover, a large fraction of the photonics products are using non visible wavelengths. One slogan summarizing very well our advocacy activities is, in Swedish, ”Synliggör Fotoniken!” , which means ”Make Photonics visible!”.
PhotonicSweden is part of a larger project owned by the strategic innovation programme ECS and called ”ECS Advocacy Platform”. The main objective of that project was originally to influence the calls of Horizon2020 to increase the level of participation of Swedish actors. After two years of project activities, it appears more and more obvious that advocacy, even in that project, should not only occur at the EU level but also at home in Sweden, to make sure that photonic companies and academic groups have enough resources and support, to actually be able to participate in EU research programmes.
Advocacy is a long-term activity, sometimes even requiring a complicated strategy and preparation work. Outreach is probably more direct. Meetings are organised with different groups of people to inform them about Photonics and to open their eyes over all possibilities offered by our field. Nevertheless, it does not mean that outreach is less vast or request less preparation. Our outreach activities have been boosted and strongly supported by the International Year of Light 2015 (IYL2015) and by the EU project Photonics4All. In the framework of that project and IYL2105, we have been able to meet, and make presentations for, the general public in a central place in Stockholm (Kungsträdgården), in the Dome of Visions, to young people from different countries studying lighting design in Alingsås (Lights in Alingsås), or interact with lively girls and boys in events co-organised with RISE Acreo and the IEEE Photonics Sweden Chapter, etc. Outreach is certainly one of the most enjoyabe activity we have!