09 May 2013
Coherent Scotland general manager Chris Dorman and consultant John Lincoln now head up Photonics Leadership Group.
The UK’s Photonics Leadership Group (PLG) has reformed, with the aim of representing an industry that it believes to be worth £10.5 billion to the domestic economy and to employ some 70,000 people.
At a meeting in London on May 8, members of the group elected Coherent Scotland's general manager Chris Dorman as chairman and consultant John Lincoln as chief executive of the organization.
Lincoln told optics.org that as an advisory body, the PLG would aim to enhance the photonics supply chain in the UK, providing guidance to both the industry and government schemes such as the electronics, sensors and photonics knowledge transfer network (ESPKTN).
The PLG enjoyed strong representation at last week’s Photonics21 annual meeting in Brussels, where the umbrella European photonics organization unveiled its new strategic roadmap with support from European Commission (EC) vice president Neelie Kroes – and Lincoln is keen to see the PLG work closely with Europe.
“Many of the UK members of the Photonics21 board of stakeholders and working groups are involved in the PLG, and we are encouraging people to take an active role in Photonics21,” he says. “We also maintain close communication with the Photonics21 secretariat, who provide a useful model of how to get the impact of photonics recognised at a senior level - as illustrated by Neelie Kroes's speech [in Brussels].”
Lincoln added that on reconstructing the PLG there was a clear consensus that the group should not simply replicate what is being done by Photonics21 (for example in generating roadmaps), but should provide a mechanism to highlight the global opportunities in those roadmaps for UK industry, and to encourage UK participation.
Ultimately, the group is aiming to elevate the UK up the global rankings as a location for photonics manufacturing and innovation, and one of the first steps towards achieving that is to measure the economic impact of the domestic photonics industry.
Calculated previously by the ESPKTN but not widely publicized, Lincoln says that the figures of £10.5 billion and 70,000 are essential for demonstrating the importance and value of the photonics industry in political circles.
The PLG has also estimated the gross value added, or GVA, of photonics in the UK at £49,000 per employee – 40% above the average for the UK manufacturing industry and indicative of the technology’s economic significance.
With an anticipated growth rate of 8-10% over the coming years, that significance is set to increase rapidly, and ought to be aided by the expected implementation of a public-private partnership (PPP) funded by a combination of the European industry and public money via the EC.
The PLG wants to be closely involved in that PPP, and said that it welcomed the new strategic roadmap just published. “[The PLG] will be further analysing this for specific opportunities for UK industry in close collaboration with ESPKTN,” states the UK group.
• To read the full statement issued by the PLG, click here (.pdf format).