UK photonics output reaches £13.5 billion according to the latest update from the PLG. The industry now contributes £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, significantly above the UK average of £67,000 per manufacturing employee
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.
“Photonics provides the back-bone of the internet, the key to many modern manufacturing processes and the sensors at the core of many defence systems, but the impact of photonics is only just starting” said PLG Chief Executive Dr John Lincoln. “We look forward to many further years of growth as photonics feeds essential data to autonomous vehicles, becomes ever more integrated into healthcare and digital manufacturing and plays an ever greater role in keeping us safe and secure.”
The methodology– pioneered in photonics – accurately combines the output of the many SMEs operating in the industry with a fraction of the output of the large and highly diversified companies that produce photonics products as part of their product portfolios. Developed with SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, for assessing the global industry in its annual Global Industry Report, this methodology is now being applied by in many locations around the world and into other enabling industries, including acoustics.
“The Photonics Industry continues its strong growth trajectory, as photons replaces traditional tools” said PLG Chairman Dr Chris Dorman, OBE. “The age of photonics firmly upon us”.
The PLG will publish further analysis on the regional distribution of UK photonics revenue, distribution of output by company size and age, and further comparisons with other UK manufacturing sectors in 2019/2020.PLG acknowledge the support of all PLG members, the Future Photonics Hub, the Compound Semiconductor Applications Catapult and Photonics Scotland in the preparation of this data.