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Ed. Note: Champions of Change is a weekly initiative to highlight Americans who are making an impact in their communities and helping our country rise to meet the many challenges of the 21st century.
Earlier this year, I was honored to be recognized as a Champion of Change and to join in a White House roundtable discussion with leaders in the Science and Technology community. The invitation to join in the discussion gave me the chance to share how Lighting Science Group, the LED lighting company that I founded in 2004, benefits from the expertise of scientists and engineers who have joined us from NASA Kennedy Space Center. Our advances in the field of LED lighting, which produces high quality light using about 80% less electricity than traditional lighting, would not have been possible without the contributions of these talented and dedicated men and women working alongside our engineering, lighting and manufacturing professionals.
In our conversations, we focused on what each of us are doing and what more can be done to further develop our technology-based industries while also contributing to job creation and quality of life in our communities. Our most significant insight was the virtuous cycle generated when centers of technical excellence create a center of gravity, attracting the commercial, educational and human resources required for new employment and business success. Kennedy Space Center has the technical resources, the facilities, the local educational infrastructure and the heritage to emerge as one such center. By creating a nucleus of technologies with the potential to transform large segments of our economy or create whole new industries, these centers of gravity are critically important to America’s continued competitiveness.
It is encouraging to see a public/private dialog engaging on issues of long term competitiveness. Lighting Science Group’s leadership in the LED lighting industry has been advanced by the access to facilities and talent in this community. We have created hundreds of jobs right here at home and want to sustain this leadership as we lead the transformation of the global lighting industry. The stakes are high, as 20% of the world’s electricity – much of it produced through the burning of irreplaceable fossil fuels – is used for lighting and our LED technology represents the fastest route to greater energy independence through demand reduction. Lighting fixtures and lamps are a $100 billion global industry, with another $280 billion spent on electricity to power those lights. Our technology, developed right here in Brevard County, Florida, is transforming the economics of this globally important industry.
The advent of electric light just over a century ago changed the way we live in fundamental ways, created whole new industries and spawned some of the dominant industrial companies of our age. Now we are on the cusp of a new lighting revolution, with solid-state LED lighting technology making light significantly more energy efficient and providing unprecedented control over the spectrum of light generated. This has implications for the way we live, work, grow our food, and even the ways in which we heal and treat illnesses. We have the technical and human skills to advance our leadership of this revolution, as we ask the question “What else can light do?”
Fredric S. Maxik, has served as Chief Scientific Officer of Lighting Science Group Corporation since June 2004 and has served as a director of Lighting Science Group since August 2004.