In October 2007 the UK photonics tradeshow Photonex took place at Stoneleigh Park, near Coventry. The two-day exhibition claimed to have left exhibitors happy compared with previous years, with exhibitors reporting a strong interest in optical components, discrete high-power LED modules, spectroscopy and laser technologies.
The 2007 exhibition featured more than 135 companies and other industry-related groups and individuals, alongside various technical meetings, product demonstrations, invitation lectures and a formal executive panel discussion. The event was organised by Xmark Media
Xmark Media’s director and Photonex event organiser Laurence Devereux said he considered the overall event to have been a great success, attended by visitors with highly specific needs and requirements. ‘This year’s show achieved a high satisfaction rating among the exhibitors,’ he said, ‘certainly higher than in the previous three years.’
Devereux added: ‘Our evening executive discussion panel looked at some of the reasons for the growing strength of the UK and wider industry. The latest figures for growth in the photonics sector, shown in various market surveys, are generally banded between 15 and 25 per cent over the past 12 months.’
The wider photonics industries have an estimated global market value of $600bn, which is likely to grow to $1.2 trillion in 2012, according to forecasts. Some of the new technologies contributing to these high figures are consumer driven, such as components for mobile phones, although this business is generally in the Far East.
Devereux added: ‘There is a strong market for larger and higher quality optics, being driven by the global investment in more powerful lasers. Related strong growth is occurring in thin-film coating technology as worldwide demand for infrared coatings increases and the need for greater capacity are driving machine sales.
‘In the biophotonics area, in particular, the increasing use of fluorescence microscopy is driving sales of interference filters and associated new technologies required for their production. The realistic growth rate in the more traditional, scientific and industrial areas of photonics is not quite in the same league as worldwide rates, but it is certainly in double figures.'
On the first day, the UK’s Photonics Knowledge Transfer Network’s spacecraft technology expert Steve Welch gave a lunchtime lecture entitled ‘Space – it’s bigger than you think’. The more than 100 delegates heard about the growing opportunities for UK photonics and related companies in space technologies.
And at the Photonex Executive panel discussion, there was much talk of the strength of the UK’s photonics R&D community. Further evidence of the photonics expertise in UK universities is that the top 10 per cent of papers at events such as the Conference on Lasers and Opto-Electrics originate in UK universities.
Among the members of the executive panel there was unanimous belief that the UK is well placed to be a leader in high-end lasers. Panel member Graeme Malcolm of M Squared Lasers, said: ‘No longer are entrepreneurs waiting for a lead from the US in terms of new applications, UK SMEs are becoming good at thinking globally and preparing earlier to become companies of scale.’
Details of Photonex 2008 will be published by Xmark Media as soon as they are available.