SPIE analysis on global photonics market presented at Photonics Europe

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SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, has released its first report as part of an ongoing analysis on the size of the global photonics market. It is hoped that the market analysis will provide insights into jobs and revenue that the photonics industry is responsible for, particularly in the USA where awareness for the sector is not as strong as in Europe.

SPIE Industry and market strategist Steve Anderson presented an update on the report on 16 April at SPIE Photonics Europe in Brussels, as part of a full day of industry-focused briefings. The presentation was latest of several since the numbers were first announced at SPIE Photonics West in San Francisco in February.

The impact of being able to provide policy makers with estimates about the jobs and revenue generated by the photonics industry has been illustrated in regions such as Europe, where photonics has been identified as one of six Key Enabling Technologies (KET). The KET recognition has helped pave the way for photonics projects to apply for major funding initiatives, and has helped raise the profile of the field among young people planning their careers.

However, in other areas, including the USA, jobs and revenue have not been quantified in the same way. Name awareness for ‘photonics’ − and more significantly, the understanding of what the field encompasses − is extremely weak for the vital enabling technology that is widely applied in every facet of life.

So it wasn't surprising that Anderson's introduction of the SPIE analysis in San Francisco drew audible enthusiasm from the cluster audience, whose livelihoods and careers are direct results of photonics research, technologies, and applications.

The SPIE team started with a manageable subset of the photonics industry, and plans to keep working to broaden the picture, Anderson said.

The initial report looks at exhibitors at this year's BiOS Expo and Photonics West Exhibition, including only those involved in core photonics component production. These 1,008 companies (out of more than 1,500 in the two exhibitions) represent 18 per cent of the total market in the sector, employ some 337,000 people, and generate $84 billion in sales annually, Anderson pointed out. Only companies with sales and employee data compatible with the Dun & Bradstreet business information database were included.

The analysis also found that the USA employed the most individuals among the countries represented at Photonics West, with just under 131,000 working in the sector. Japan ranked second, with 121,000, and France third with 28,500, just ahead of Germany with 26,000.

‘We have the great fortune to be working in a vibrant area of science and technology, in a field that is expanding in so many ways, on so many fronts,’ said SPIE CEO Eugene Arthurs. He emphasised that the goal behind developing the data is ‘to serve the international community worldwide.’