UK photonics output £13.5bn per year

UK Photonics- key statistics

Companies manufacturing and delivering services based on photonics technology in the UK produce £13.5 billion in output every year, contribute £5.3 billion of gross added value to the UK economy annually and employs 69,000 people in the UK at a productivity of £76,400 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 is now equivalent in size to the UK pharmaceutical, 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 PLG analysis has fully reviewed the 1200 companies operating in and around photonics ensuring that only the most relevant UK-based companies were included with locations based on real manufacturing and operating addresses.  This year’s analysis drew from 930 separate organisations made up of 1,030 legal entities with 1,100 operating locations.  Focusing on identifying actual operating locations, rather than the registered office locations used previously, has also revealed a shift in the regional distribution of the industry reflecting the wide distribution of manufacturing sites around the country. The updated analysis also shows like-for-like growth of 8.4% since the last report based solely on comparing companies included in both the 2017 and 2019 analysis. 

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