Photonics recognised in UK Innovation Strategy

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The Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng MP, Secretary of State at the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. Image: UK Innovation Strategy

Photonics has been recognised in the UK government's Innovation Strategy as one of seven technology families of UK strength and opportunity.

This strategy focuses on how the government can help businesses innovate by making the most of the UK’s research, development and innovation system.

The strategy highlights that these seven transformative technology families will be the focus of future government support based on their globally competitive R&D and industrial strength. Photonics comes under the 'Electronics, photonics and quantum' technology family. 

Business Secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, said: 'We must build on this country’s innovative foundations to create a robust and agile economy that works for everyone and is fit for future generations. Investment in innovation will be critical to achieving this, and to building a greener, healthier and more prosperous future for the UK.'

Citing the £14.5 billion contribution photonics makes to the UK economy from the Photonics Leadership Group’s latest analysis, the strategy highlights how supporting transformative deep tech in the UK can drive ‘exponential change’ and ‘sustained strategic advantage’.  

The strategy recognises the key role photonics and the other transformative technologies play in addressing society challenges. The report stated the government 'must back the emerging technologies that can make fundamental contributions to those missions and will shape our lives in the decades ahead’

John Lincoln, chief executive of the Photonics Leadership Group, commented: 'For those working in photonics, the enabling nature of using and working with light has been always been clear – it is what makes the field so compelling. It is fantastic to see this now recognised in the Innovation Strategy alongside the importance of backing such transformative technologies to benefit society and all vertical markets and challanges.' 

The PLG, UK photonics industry and research communities look forward to working with government, Innovate UK and UKRI to operationalise and deliver this strategy.

The launch of the Innovation strategy coincides the award of £42.4 million to Smart Nano NI.  The largest of 5 projects to receive the latest Strength in Places funding, Smart Nano NI has a strong photonics focus bringing together expertise across Northern Ireland from Seagate Technology, Analytics Engines, Causeway Sensors, Cirdan Imaging, Digital Catapult NI, North West Regional College, Queen’s University Belfast, Ulster University and Yelo. Smart Nano NI will accelerate the work of developing transformative advanced prototyping and smart manufacturing methods.