At the turn of the 21st century, photonics was synonymous with optical fibre telecommunication. The sector was growing at an explosive rate due to the introduction of practical wavelength-division multiplexing that revolutionized the information network. A generation of highly talented engineers and scientists flocked to companies like Nortel, France Telecom, Lucent and Marconi in order to work on the leading edge. At the same time, these same companies were also spending billions of dollars on wireless airspace rights. This was more than 20 times the size of the entire market for optical telecommunications. In 2002, when the wireless investment could not be recovered through revenues, these companies decided to halt the deployment of the optical fibre network. North American companies abandoned their operations in Europe. Suppliers of optical components and systems saw their sales drop to near zero in a matter of months. Massive layoffs followed. With no prospect of employment anywhere in Europe, these highly skilled professionals emigrated to the United States, or even worse, started new careers in the finance and banking sector. Thomas Pearsall created the European Photonics Industry Consortium as a response to this catastrophe. He sought support for EPIC as an organisation that could build solidarity among companies and research laboratories to help Europe to retain and benefit from the precious human resources that the telecommunications industry had jettisoned. And that was the beginning of this epic journey. Here is a summary of these 20 years of EPIC!