UK Photonics companies are larger than average

Or more correctly there are relatively more larger companies in photonics than standard in manufacturing.

Distribution of UK photonics companies by by size

On going analysis of the UK photonics industry shows that the fraction of UK photonics operations which are small, medium or large by employment is significantly higher than in UK engineering or manufacturing sectors*.

  • Only 50% of photonics operations employ less than 10 employees, compared to 75-78% in general manufacturing.
  • 32% of photonics companies are small operations with 10-50 people compared to 16% in manufacturing overall
  • 14% are medium with 50 to 250 employees compared to only 4% in manufacturing overall
  • 4% are large with > 250 employees relative to 1% in manufacturing.

Given larger firms are normally more productive this is an important feature of UK photonics. It may also reflect the larger critical mass of skills needed to bring photonics products to market. Notable this unusual distribution is not replicated in comparative analysis of the UK acoustics industry. It is all the more unexpected, as for diversified companies we only include staff in their photonics operations in the employee count.

The large fraction of medium and large sized companies underpins the increasing emphasis the photonics industry place on support for investing in and scaling-up operations as demand for their products grows. Indeed even in the large category there are only 7 photonics companies employing over 2000 people.

This latest analysis illustrates the strength of the UK photonics industrial base and the readiness to drive economic expansion by growing beyond small and medium sized enterprises.

*based UK Engineering and manufacturing data based on Oxford Economic and The Manufacturing Technologies association 2018 report “The True Impact of UK Manufacturing“. Photonics company size distribution from the 2019 PLG analysis of the UK photonics industry.

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