UK photonics worth £12.9 billion to UK economy

UK photonics industry output now exceeds £12.9 billion, is growing at twice the national average.

This updated analysis of the UK photonics industry shows a rise of £2.4 bn since the last report in 2013, recording an average growth rate of  >5.3%, which finds UK photonics to be growing at twice the speed of the rest of the UK economy.

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.

This growth in UK Photonics reflects the increasingly critical role that light plays in next-generation products and manufacturing. From the lasers used in automotive production to make cars lighter and safer, to the cameras that help to keep our streets safer, to the optics used to both diagnose and increasingly treat patients in hospitals, and from the LED lighting reducing our electricity bills; to the fibre optics powering the internet, light technology is everywhere and increasingly essential to our modern lives, albeit often hidden inside key services, goods and processes.

The UK’s global reputation for outstanding innovation in photonics is reflected in the country’s exports of over 75% of its manufactured output, one of the highest export fractions of any UK manufacturing industry. Over 65,000 people are employed in some 1,500 photonics companies across the country. The UK photonics workforce contributes £62,000 Gross Value Add per employee to the economy, which as a measure of productivity is almost three times the national average.

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