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Data on core photonics market is giving the industry something to talk about

Latest update on industry revenues, job numbers reported at New York Photonics event

05 September 2014

ROCHESTER, New York, and BELLINGHAM, Washington, USA -- New data on the size of the global photonics market developed as part of a continuing effort by SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, is giving the photonics community something to talk about, indeed.

Steve Anderson
Steve Anderson

The data released last month by SPIE Industry and Market Strategist Steve Anderson at SPIE Optics + Photonics and presented Thursday (4 September) at the annual meeting of New York Photonics (NYP) is valuable information for industry leaders and academic researchers seeking to communicate the impact of the field.

Moreover, it is a valuable new resource for venture capitalists and policy makers seeking the best investment directions to ensure future economic strength and national security.

At the NYP meeting, Anderson was one of a panel of experts who focused on the effectiveness of the model of national centers of excellence for manufacturing and innovation.

Anderson presented the SPIE team’s findings that the core photonics components market comprises 2,750 companies in 46 countries, generating US$156 billion in revenues. The companies provide 700,000 jobs, and produce materials, LEDs, lasers, detectors, image sensors, lenses, prisms, optical filters, gratings, fiber optics, and other photonic components.

The numbers on the worldwide photonics core components market were the second phase in an ongoing SPIE initiative The first phase was announced at SPIE Photonics West in San Francisco, California, last February, and reported similar data for 1,008 of the more than 1,500 exhibiting companies at this year’s BiOS Expo and Photonics West Exhibition.

The SPIE analytics team's next project will focus on the size of photonics-enabled markets worldwide.

The data has been welcomed by industry audiences around the world, who appreciate the report’s transparency -- an important factor for credibility -- Anderson said.

Study results aggregated photonics company sales and employee data using information from Dun & Bradstreet (D&B) as well as public information combined with regional statistical benchmarks derived from the SPIE team’s analysis of D&B data. For companies not reporting to D&B, the team did an in-depth review of data that seemed out of range, and prorated revenue and employment based on estimates of actual photonics-related sales. Companies with total sales of less than US$10 million were assumed to 100% photonics.

The impact of being able to provide policy makers in particular with estimates about the jobs and revenue generated by the photonics industry is evident in regions such as Europe, where photonics has been identified as one of six Key Enabling Technologies (KET), Anderson said. 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.

Anderson will present the report next in France during the second annual LAPHIA International Symposium, to be held at the Institut d'Optique d'Aquitaine, Université de Bordeaux, 8-12 September.

A key topic of discussion at the NYP annual meeting what was the establishment in Rochester of a possible new Department of Defense (DoD)-backed institute focused on photonics would mean to the region. The DoD institute would be part of the President's National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) initiative.

Also addressed was the opportunity to raise much broader awareness of the field of photonics offered by the United Nations-established International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies 2015 (IYL 2015). The observance is a "once-in-a-lifetime" chance to draw attention to the many ways optics and photonics technologies improve life, through applications in healthcare, security, communications, manufacturing, education, entertainment, and other areas, Anderson said.

Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (Democrat-New York), long-time advocate for New York's optics, photonics, and imaging industry, was the keynote speaker for the NYP event. "We are in a new economy, an innovation economy, and when it comes to photonics and optics Rochester is pushing the boundaries like nobody else in the world," Slaughter said.

SPIE is the international society for optics and photonics, a not-for-profit organization founded in 1955 to advance light-based technologies. The Society serves more than 235,000 constituents from approximately 155 countries, offering conferences, continuing education, books, journals, and a digital library in support of interdisciplinary information exchange, professional networking, and patent precedent. SPIE provided over $3.2 million in support of education and outreach programs in 2012.

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