Sound Bites

The following, sometimes surprising, sound bites capture the impact of photonics in the UK

  • There are more than 1500 companies manufacturing photonics in the UK
    • With clusters in Scotland, N. Ireland, Wales, South West, South East, Midlands, North West and East.
  • 65,000 people are directly employed in the photonics industry in the UK
    • Twice as many people are employed in UK photonics than are employed in the steel or space industries*
    • Approximately the same number are employed in photonics as employed in the nuclear industry, which is ~50% of the number employed by the defence industry in the UK*
  • Photonics adds £12.9bn directly to UK economy every year in manufactured products and services.
    • ~ the same as output of the UK pharmaceutical industry, but from 3X as many firms
  • Photonics is manufacturing productivity is 3X national average with a gross value add of £62,000 per employee
  • UK photonics firms export over 75% of their output with many exporting 95-100% of their UK output.
  • Automotive and aerospace manufacturing, key UK industries with an output of £25bn annual, make extensive use of lasers in manufacturing.
    • Yet broader UK manufacturing has one of the lowest rates of adoption of lasers processing in Europe- Laser for Productivity a UK Strategy
    • All of the 300 miles of wiring in a modern airliner are marked by a laser every 75mm, with techniques pioneered in the UK.
  • ~20% of the European economy depends on photonics to keep it competitive (from EU 2011 study)
  • Every bit of data, 1 or 0, transmitted on optical fibre in trading on the London Stock exchange is worth £6 according to 2015 KTN report
    • 1 in every 100 bits of data transmitted in UK  is generated by City of London and carried on optical fibre.
  • UK data centres use enough electricity to power 3.8million homes, photonics is key to reducing this power consumption
  • 8.5% of all European Horizon 2020 research and development innovation projects, with a total value of €1.9bn, include photonics
    • Over €800m worth of projects involving photonics and at least one UK partner have been supported by H2020 in the last 3 years.
  • Well over one billion kilometres of optical fibre are in use in the world today- enough to go 25,000 times around the earth, 1300 times to the moon and back or 9 times to Mars and back.

*Comparative figures based on industrial statistics published in The Manufacturer 2017.

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