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UK Photonics Vision for 2035 predicts ‘£50 billion industry’

03 Nov 2021

Leadership Group expects significant growth in photonics-related employment and economic impact.

The UK’s Photonics Leadership Group (PLG) has this week published The UK Photonics Vision for 2035, in what it is calling is “a globally unique attempt to look into the future and quantify the economic impact of photonics in the long term and where that impact will be delivered.”

The Photonics Leadership Group, led by Chief Executive John Lincoln, takes voluntary input from over 90 industry and academic leaders in the UK photonics sector, providing a voice and interface for UK photonics to foster strategic dialogue between industry, academia, support agencies, and government in order to strengthen and grow the industry and the applications of photonics.

The Vision report indicates that by 2035 the UK photonics sector will achieve the following:

  • Grow to a £50 billion annual industry up from £14.5 billion in 2020.
  • Add an additional 150,000 jobs on top of the 76,500 already employed in photonics in the UK.
  • Be one of the top three most productive manufacturing sectors in the UK.
  • Be key to keeping >60% of the UK economy competitive in 2035.

Dr. Lincoln commented, “The vision intentionally looks far into the future showing how important it is to support scale-up of UK photonics given that communications, health, defence, manufacturing and achieving net zero will all depend on core photonics capability.”

The forecast has been constructed in response to the UK Government’s Innovation Strategy (published by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy in July 2021) which identified photonics along with electronics and quantum as one of the seven key transformative technologies deemed to be “critical for future growth and prosperity.”

Available in full at photonicsuk.org, the photonics 2035 vision calls for:

  • Constructive partnership with government to develop a detailed plan and select interventions to deliver the 2035 photonics vision.
  • Dedicated personnel assigned to photonics in BEIS and Innovate UK to ensure photonics is integrated in R&D investments at a level reflective of the scale of opportunities and impact outlined in the vision.
  • A seat on the new Council For Science And Technology to reflect the all-pervasive nature of photonics.

‘Photonics powerhouse’

In return, added Dr. Lincoln, the photonics industry will continue to invest, to expand, to train and champion the UK as a global powerhouse for science, technology and manufacturing, highlighting the benefits of investing in the UK in board rooms across the world.

He said, “The vision has been published following conclusion of the 2021 Spending Review as an informative tool especially for those in government departments and innovation agencies now working on the detail of which programs to support now their budgets have been fixed as well as an aid for companies and researchers developing their own forward looking strategies.”

Optikos Corporation TRIOPTICS GmbHCeNing Optics Co LtdUniverse Kogaku America Inc.Berkeley Nucleonics CorporationIridian Spectral TechnologiesMad City Labs, Inc.
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