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Analysis demonstrates strength of UK Photonics

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Recent analysis shared by the UK Photonics Leadership Group demonstrates that the UK photonics industry is in a strong position and ready to drive economic expansion.

The pictured data shows that the fraction of firms which are either small (10-50 employees), medium (50-250 employees) or large (over 250 employees) is significantly higher in the UK photonics industry than in the UK engineering, manufacturing or acoustics sectors.

‘Given that larger firms are normally more productive, this is an important feature of UK photonics,’ commented Dr John Lincoln, chief executive of the Photonics Leadership Group.

‘It [the data] may also reflect the larger critical mass of skills needed to bring photonics products to market.’

The large fraction of medium- and large-sized companies underpins the increasing emphasis that the photonics industry places on support for investing in and scaling-up operations as demand for photonics grows, Lincoln noted, highlighting that so far only seven photonics firms employ over 2,000 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,’ he concluded.

Related article: What would Britain's exit from the EU mean for the photonics industry?

Further recent analysis of the UK photonics industry (see below) has provided a regional breakdown of industry productivity measured through gross value added to the economy per photonics employee.

A regional breakdown of industry productivity measured through gross value added to the economy per photonics employee. Credit: Photonics Leadership Group

UK Photonics’ total output was £13.5 billion in 2018, with a total gross value added (GVA) to the economy estimated to be £5.3 billion. At an average gross value added per photonics employee of £76,400, photonics productivity across the country is already 14 per cent higher than the UK manufacturing average of around £67,000 per employee.

This latest analysis shows how photonics productivity varies from £66,800 per employee up to £89,500 between regions. Four regions have GVA per employee above £80,000 – East of England, North West, Yorkshire & Humber and Scotland. There are also at least 30 photonics companies – many manufacturing hardware in the UK for global export – with productivity over £100,000 per employee.