Industry Strategy – what does it mean for photonics

Published on 23Jan 2017, the UK’s latest industrial strategy presents many opportunities  for photonics summarised in our compressed analysis of the industry strategy

View Westminster Hall debate regarding Photonics

The Westminster Hall debate regarding Photonics can be viewed in full online (timing from 11:00am on with respond from Jo Johnston, MP Minister for Universities Science and Research and Innovation from 11:16. Read more of this post

Westminster Hall debate regarding Photonics Industry

Carol Monaghan, MP for Glasgow North West, has successfully applied for a Westminster Hall debate on the UK Photonics Industry, to be held on Wednesday 25 Janurary 2017 @ 11am

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Industry Strategy Feedback

The UK’s new industry strategy is now published.  Whilst, the 10 pillars of the strategy will support continued development of photonics, the vital role of enabling technologies, such as photonics, that provide the competitive edge in product performance, and manufacturing productivity needs to be fully recognised.  Less than 5% of the value of high technology goods, from mobile phones to airplanes, is in the final assembly (Economist 14/1/17). Most value is in the design, the critical components (often photonics e.g. camera, screen, sensors) and the manufacturing equipment (also often photonics e.g laser marking, cutting, machine vision).

Responses to the green paper give the opportunity  to refine the industrial strategy and make sure support for the  research, design, development and manufacture of the hidden technologies that enable a productive future is secure.  The UK is blessed with globally leading photonics research and a strong export driven industry.  But, as a global industry, photonics is sensitive to changes in international trade and care is needed to ensure we continue to develop and manufacture this enabling technology in the UK.

Online responses to the industrial strategy can be submitted at

Industry Strategy Photonics potential

The Photonics Leadership Group welcomes the publication of UK Industry Strategy and looks forward to developing a sector deal for photonics and light based technologies with UK government that addresses needs of both UK photonics industry and the huge range of firms enabled by photonics.

The priority given in the strategy to industries, such as photonics, that self-organise – as evidenced by the continued support for the PLG from multiple sectors and organisations distributed across the UK is further welcomed.  With shared challenges and opportunities already identified, and further strategies for lasers in manufacturing and roadmaps for photonics in active development, the PLG invites the government prioritize development of a sector deal in photonics.  Critical to keeping so many industries competitive from automotive to healthcare, vital for delivering productivity gains in manufacturing and already a major exporter a secotr deal for photonics would enhance the whole of the UK economy.

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Minutes available

Minutes of the PLG meeting on 11 January 2017 are now available to attendees and regular contributors

Please contact us if you would like to participate in the Photonics Leadership Group

Opportunites in UK Datacentre Equipment

The Big UK Data Centre Equipment opportunity cover

The Big UK Data Equipment Opportunity report highlights UK capabilities and key players within this important growth area, with a focus specifically on the financial sector.

The past decade has seen a move from the physical trading floor to the anonymous data centre, populated with generic imported equipment. The next decade will see these systems optimised for the unique requirements of individual data centres. This presents a major opportunity for the UK to supply latency and security-optimised hardware to the local financial services industries and the many sectors handling sensitive data in the UK, from smart metering to healthcare and security.

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Photonics enabling Advanced Engineering

Advanced Engineering  is one of the biggest trade shows in the UK, with 700+ exhibiting companies and 13,000 attendees bringing together engineering decision-makers from OEM’s and top tier manufacturers across many sectors. The show features many manufacturers with a focus this year on Aerospace, Automotive, Performance Metals and Composites.

The KTN and are running a session on Photonics in Applied Engineering at the show to highlight how Photonics impacts many aspects of advanced engineering and offering brokerage opportunities, for more details and registration for 3rd Nov 2016

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Update to UK Photonics Industry figures


Map UK Photonics Companies

We will shortly begin the process of updating the figures for UK photonics output and employment, in collaboration with the KTN and the Future Photonics Hub.
UK Photonics
Future figures will be based on the list of companies making up the UK photonics map. Please check your organisation is on the map with the correct address, any updates please contact the PLG

The Upside of Brexit- photonic exports

Away from the political chaos caused by the Brexit vote, it is worth reflecting that industry is much more comfortable with absorbing unforeseen change than our politicians or press appear to be.  Everyday companies take in their stride changing customer demand, new product introductions, changes in personal, vagaries in delivery and host of other factors they must absorb to deliver and exceed customer expectation.

Successful companies, of which we have a great many in the UK, are masters of consistent, calm delivery based on smoothing and managing a host of varying inputs.  Brexit does not change this.  Indeed, we can expect business to be the calming blanket, which, whilst not generating headlines, does keep the ship moving forward.  A good product last week is still a good product today.

For high value manufacturers, which includes most of the 1500 photonics companies in the UK, the exchange rate shift can also have benefit.   Cost of imported materials may rise, but in high value photonics products, the component bill of material is only a small fraction of the final selling price. A great deal more value is added in the design, assembly and support of such systems. The absolute increase in the cost of materials to the UK manufacturer is thus small relative to the reduction in final system price to the end international customer caused by the falling value the pound. Give that photonics is such a global market place this makes UK produced photonics instantly more attractive, making this a great time to focus on UK photonics exports.