UK Photonics SWOT –life sciences and biophotonics

We are preparing SWOT analysis on 7 key UK photonics sectors.   The last draft of the SWOT for biophotonics areas is below.  Comments for improvement are welcome. SWOTS for the other areas are found in parallel postings

Life sciences – biophotonics

Unique UK aspect – NHS state supported healthcare


  • Strong and diverse biophotonics research base especially in areas such as diagnostics and applications of advanced imaging techniques
  • Large number of laser manufactures exporting significant system numbers for biophotonics applications
  • Increased precision from photonic based diagnostic and treatment methods
  • Strong penetration of photonics tools into life science research extensively supported by international suppliers with UK operations
  • Significant number of biochemistry and biophotonics research collaborations with strong support for cross-disciplinary projects from both physical and medical science funding bodies

  • Diversity of applications leading to fragmentation of development
  • Poor engagement with pharmaceutical industry / NHS / clinicians / medical equipment providers
  • Perceived higher cost of photonics based diagnostic solutions
  • Limited number of biophotonics SMEs dedicated to commercialising new advances (although those that exist are growing rapidly and visibility is not optimal)

  • Vibrant UK pharmaceutical and biotech industry e.g. AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmtihKline, Ardana, Axis-Shield etc
  • Potential of point-of-care diagnostics.
  • Create of Academic Health Science Networks to improve identification, adoption & spread of innovation in the NHS.
  • Telemedicine, remote care and monitoring
  • Increased rate of company creation / knowledge transfer from strong research base.

  • Size of NHS
  • Rental /Cost per treatment financing vs capex purchasing
  • Significant delta between demands of diagnostic/ medical applicaitons and life science research applications

  • Slow and conservative adoption cycles in clinical applications
  • Poor economics associated with clinical approval of any required bio-chemicals.
  • Split of budget responsibility for care in the community and clinical care
  • In moving to market biophotonics companies are associated themselves increasing with medical/ pharma sectors and less with photonics.
  • Financial pressure on pharma companies to reduce cost potential impacting investment in area

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