Future Policy Actions to Support Photonics

The Photonics Leadership Group has released five future government policy actions that are critical to support the continued growth of the UK Photonics industry. Industry call on the new government to prioritise action in these areas to ensure UK photonics continues to thrive and deliver growth three times greater than the overall economy.

1. Increase Confidence in Investment:

Accelerate the next Spending Review to provide certainty to departmental budgets. Protect innovation support alongside support for fundamental science to enable to UK to make more of its global science leadership.

2. Tax Credits:

Enhance tax credit delivery. Removing incentives for HMRC to negotiate down tax credits companies are due and targeting a 30 day period to pay tax credits in line with the government’s own targets for paying invoices from SMEs.

  • Protect and expand capital equipment tax reliefs  to support manufacturing scale-up in the UK,  including 100% full expensing of capital.

3. Skills:

Photonics creates high gross value added (GVA)  jobs, at over 200% of the UK average GVA per  employee. To continue to expand production  and applications, the industry requires a growing  skilled workforce, which needs a pipeline of  incoming talent, requiring: 

  • A review of careers education for 16-18  years olds to ensure that career advisory  professional are aware and communicating  the opportunities, impact and prospects for  career options in modern manufacturing  design and innovation in the UK; 
  • Support the develop of a skills training  matrix between educators and industry to  highlight required and missing skills now and  anticipated in the future;
  • Streamline and accelerate the visa  sponsoring process for STEM skills at all  levels reducing the time SMEs take to fill  positions where UK candidates cannot be  found.

4. Future Proof Resilience:

Support photonics companies to develop  solutions for quantum and AI technologies,  reducing the risks and providing incentives  to invest in markets of vital importance to  the UK but where scale and timing remain  highly uncertain.

  • Proceed at pace with the recommendations  of the UK semiconductor infrastructure  feasibility review. Providing support at  scale for compound semiconductors and  integrated silicon photonics where the UK  has a leading innovation lead and globally  competitive position on which to build.

5. Balance Innovation Support:

Instruct government agencies to balance  support between challenge focused initiatives  and maturing underpinning technologies in  photonics, acoustics, fluids and electronics that  are vital to supporting progress in all society  challenges and enable solutions to be realised  with maximum UK supply chain content.

  • Dedicated support for innovation projects  derisking advances in photonics that  will have impact across multiple end  applications e.g. integrated photonics.
  • Enhance capex support in grant funding  from UKRI agencies to support development  of advanced automation by reimbursing  100% of hardware equipment costs used  within projects to demonstrate new/updated  manufacturing processes.
  • Prioritise incentives to accelerate  deployment of the latest production  equipment across whole of UK  manufacturing. Intrinsically digital and clean,  wider adoption of photonics production  techniques is essential to the deployment  of AI, digital manufacturing and emission  reduction. The UK is currently falling behind  its competitors in adoption, jeopardising our  future manufacturing competitiveness.
  • Update the UKs Advanced Manufacturing  Plan and scope of Made Smarter to explicitly  include machine vision; 3d printing; laser  machining, joining and cleaning.
  • Develop a National Strategy for future  modern manufacturing facilities and  investment in the UK. Covering the planning, incentivisation and derisking the hi-tech  manufacturing infrastructure required by UK businesses of tomorrow.

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