Minister joins Photonics Industry debate at Westminster Hall

Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, Jo Johnson MP, joined MPs from the All Party Parliamentary Group for Photonics today in a Westminster Hall debate on the UK Photonics Industry.

The Photonics Industry is a growth sector in the UK with more than 1,500 companies who employ over 70,000 people with an output of £10.5bn. The industry has experienced a sustained growth of 6-8% per year over the last 3 decades. More importantly the Photonics Industry enables other industries to be competitive with 10% of overall UK jobs depending on it.

The debate was especially timely with the launch of the government’s industrial strategy green paper on Monday. Jo Johnson described the photonics industry as “a great example of the types of sector we’re focusing on in our industrial strategy”, acknowledging its “great and tangible contribution to all parts of the UK, underpinning a wide range of sectors and applications”. The Minister further commended the UK’s strong research base, recognising a photonics industry “built on the UK’s outstanding expertise” and supported by significant investment through the EPSRC, with its photonics portfolio totalling in excess of £170M and including major initiatives such as the £10M Future Photonics Hub. A recording of the debate is now available to watch online at 

Parliamentary support for the Photonics Industry with a new APPG for Photonics

The debate followed a successful application by Carol Monaghan, MP for Glasgow North West, an active campaigner for science and technology and member of the House of Commons’ Science and Technology Select Committee who instigated the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Photonics’ inaugural meeting in October 2016. The group has cross-party support from MPs throughout the UK and is now fully registered and included on the parliamentary list of approved APPGs:

The Photonics Leadership Group, a not-for-profit organisation representing the UK Photonics industry, will provide administrative support for the APPG and will assist the elected officers in managing the group. In addition, the Photonics Leadership Group has set up and will manage the new website:

The APPG on Photonics will hold its next meeting on 21 February 2017 in the Houses of Parliament, with Members of both Houses and from all parties invited to attend. A number of leading Photonics companies will be there to provide hands-on demonstrations of products to raise awareness of the industry.

Carol Monaghan MP commented:

“Building on the international year of light in 2015, I am delighted to have secured a debate in Westminster Hall for the Photonics Industry, recognising the huge contribution that the light-based technology – photonics – makes to the UK economy. A key enabling technology, encompassing everything from lasers and cameras to lighting and touch screen displays, photonics is critical to increasing manufacturing productivity, delivering efficient healthcare and keeping us digitally connected and secure. The UK has long been a hot bed of photonics innovation and many companies, including those in my own constituency, are translating world-leading UK science into globally exported products.”

Speaking after the confirmation of the APPG registration, Dr John Lincoln of the Photonics Leadership Group said:

“Photonics is one of the key technologies of the 21st century, touching every aspect of our lives. Where we need to see, make or change something at a distance; from laser welding of cars to make them safer, lighter and more efficient; to the essential fibre optic network delivering data to us all; or the touch screen on our mobile electronics; photonics is everywhere.

“The UK is a leading manufacturer of photonics with an annual output of over £10bn, over 75% of which is exported, demonstrating the UK’s globally-leading capability. Even when something is manufactured abroad it is often touched by a UK-made laser in the process. We now need to accelerate adoption of light technology by UK manufacturing to boost our domestic productivity.

“The Photonics Leadership Group is delighted to welcome the APPG on Photonics to share our passion and ensure the UK makes best use of our photonics strength.”

A future manufacturing research hub