Study on the strategic autonomy of photonics

In a recent study commissioned by SPECTARIS and Messe München GmbH, the consulting firm TEMATYS examines the sovereignty of the German and European photonics industry and identifies ways to achieve greater strategic autonomy.

The findings brought to light by the author of the study Benoît d’Humières from the French consulting firm TEMATYS in mid-2023 in a survey of around 50 German photonics companies are alarming. Although more than three quarters of them (77 percent) rate the strategic autonomy of the German photonics industry as medium or high, an in-depth analysis shows how much dependence there is on imports and the extent to which the industry is dependent on stable supply chains for key components such as microchips, electronic components, optical components and assemblies, photonic integrated circuits (PICs), as well as raw materials ranging from rare earths, high-purity metals and infrared materials to polishing agents. A survey conducted by Photonics21 in 2022 confirms the analysis: Four-fifths of respondents reported problems in the supply chain that limited delivery capability for almost 90 percent of them. At the time, there was a lack of microchips, photonic semiconductor components, and optical components such as glass fibers, optical lenses, mirrors, filters and LEDs, as well as raw materials and equipment.

Study derives clear recommendations for action on the basis of the analysis

The study now presented, “Strategische Autonomie der Photonik am Standort Deutschland – Abgrenzung, Situationsanalyse und Handlungsoptionen” (Strategic autonomy of photonics in Germany – delimitation, situation analysis, and options for action), conducted by TEMATYS on behalf of the German industry association for optics, photonics, analytical and medical technologies, SPECTARIS, and Messe München GmbH, does not stop there. On 60 pages, it also provides specific recommendations for action to politicians and industry players. In addition, a guest article by Dr. Henning Kroll, Coordinator of the Business Unit Innovation Trends and Science Studies at the Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research ISI in Karlsruhe, and an in-depth interview with Prof. Thomas Schröder, Director of the Leibniz Institute for Crystal Growth (IKZ) and Professor at the Institute of Physics at Humboldt University (HU) Berlin, put the findings of the survey into context and highlight specific fields of action to strengthen the strategic autonomy of photonics in Europe and Germany.

The study, published exclusively in German, is available here for free download download.

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