UK photonics output £14.5bn per year

UK Photonics

Companies manufacturing and delivering services based on photonics technology in the UK produced £14.5 billion in output in 2020 and contributed £6.5 billion of gross added value to the UK economy annually, employing 76,700 people in the UK at a productivity of £85,000 per employee.  Photonics productivity is significantly above the UK manufacturing average of £67,000 per manufacturing employee.  This 2019 update to the size of the UK industry, follows detailed analysis by the Photonics Leadership Group (PLG), which provides informed guidance to government, support agencies, users, and developers of photonics in order to maximise the industry’s growth across the UK

The UK photonics industry employed twice the number of people employed in UK pharmaceutical production and is larger than fintech or space industries in the UK.  The continued growth of UK photonics reflects the critical role that light plays in current and next-generation products and manufacturing.  

The latest, 2021 PLG analysis includes >1200 companies operating in photonics ensuring that only the most relevant UK-based companies were included with locations based on 1500 real manufacturing and operating addresses.  Focusing on identifying actual operating locations, rather than the registered office locations shows 8 regions in the UK produce over £1 billion of photonics output. The updated analysis shows without Covid-19 the industry would have grown to £15 billion. The underlying growth excluding the impact of Covid-19 shows like-for-like growth of 12% over two years (5.8% CAGR).

The PLG is conservatively forecasting UK photonics will grow to £16billion industry by 2022.

UK photonics 2021 update

Extended analysis, regional breakdown, comparison to other UK manufacturing sectors, trends and opportunities are included in the PLG’s 2021 presentation “Size of UK Photonics – the 2021 update” available to watch on line.

The UK Photonics: the Hidden Economy report, published in May 2018, details  how such an enabling sector can be analysed and compares UK photonics to other key UK manufacturing sectors, the fit of photonics to the UK industry strategy and its position relative to the European and global photonics industries

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