Photonics and the 2018 budget

Whilst the 2018 UK budget may not include any specific or direct support for photonics, there were significant announcements for industries heavily dependent on photonics including:

  • £121m for Made Smarter supporting digital manufacturing
  • £315m for the Industrial Energy Transformation Fund to support greater energy efficiency in manufacturing
    • Both ‘made smarter’ and ‘energy transformation’ should open new pathways for the adoption of efficient digital laser based materials processing
  • £70m for Quantum from the Industry Strategy Challenge Fund
  • £200m for British Business Bank for venture capital and growth financing should access to the European Investment Bank be unavailable after Brexit.
  • £200m for Full Fibre Broadband pilot innovative approaches to deploying full fibre internet in rural locations and a consultation on mandating gigabit-capable connections to new build homes. Underpinning the dependence of society and the economy on optical fibre and photonics technology.

In addition, congratulations to power electronics, awarded £78m As an enabling technology under the Stephenson Challenge which will draw heavily on compound semiconductors, variants of which also have a key role in photonics.

Given the regional strengths in photonics the £120m awarded to the Strength in Places Fund should also offer potential to support clusters of science and innovation excellence.

For those looking to expand these is a new structures and buildings allowance and a temporary increase in the Annual Investment Allowance for plant and machinery to £1 million.

Those paying the apprenticeship levy will be able to transfer up to 25% of their funds to pay for apprenticeship training in their supply chains, helping to support apprenticeships in SMEs providing key enabling photonics.

The detail is in pages 56-58 of the budget text

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