The around 5,000 European photonics companies currently employ over 300,000 people. In 2015, they had a 15.5 percent share of the world market. Just under EUR 70 billion of the global industry turnover (EUR 447 billion) was generated by European companies.
In its latest “Europe’s age of light” vision, the Photonics21 industry platform predicts continued dynamic growth with annual growth rates of 6.2 percent. Against this backdrop, the European companies could treble their production by 2030 and thus generate a turnover of EUR 200 billion. After 67 percent growth in the past ten years, this would be a significant increase in the growth rate. According to Photonics21, the industry is already taking an important step toward achieving this target: On average, it is investing over a tenth of its turnover in research and development and driving innovation through collaboration with universities and research institutions. At the same time, it is doing more and more to attract public subsidies. The fact that photonics projects now account for 45 percent of the projects in the EU’s “Horizon 2020” research framework program—an increase of ten percent—is one indication of this. This figure was just 35 percent during the 7th framework program.
The authors of the platform, which represents over 3,300 members, identified the switch from silicon-based to optical data processing (optical computing) as well as the advance of lasers and optical sensor systems for Industry 4.0 in the health care sector, transport and vehicle technology, the energy sector and many other branches as key growth drivers. “Photonics is the driver for groundbreaking innovations,” the report said. The photonics industry plays a crucial role in Europe’s ability to change markets with disruptive technologies.
Photonics21 regards integrated photonics, micro and nanophotonics, silicon photonics, plasmonics, metamaterials, quantum optics and the broad field of digital photonics including 3D sensor systems and computational imaging as key areas of innovation.