The World Photonics Market Grows to $600 Billion in 2015

A new study reports that the European optics sector grew by 12% last year, and predicts that the world photonics market will grow by 7.6% annually for the next eight years.

The new report, issued by the Photonics21 technology platform together with the European Commission, indicates that sales revenues in the European optical technology sector have already caught up with those of the microelectronic industry in the EU zone, and will move ahead of them in the coming years.

The Photonics In Europe report says that in 2005 photonic products achieved sales of €228 billion ($328 billion) worldwide, with the European industry accounting for €43.5 billion or 19%. Based on the study's predicted annual growth rate of 7.6%, an international photonics market of €439 billion or $631 billion is forecast for 2015 - almost double the 2005 figure.

"Europe-wide collaboration in the fields of strategy, research and development has proven to be extremely fruitful," said EU Commissioner for the Information Society and the Media, Viviane Reding. "Photonics is a key technology and will have a pivotal role to play in terms of job creation, prosperity and quality of life throughout the European Union."

European photonics revenues rose by a full 12% to €49 billion in 2006, an increase substantially above the region's GDP growth during the same period.

The report estimates there to be more than 5000 optics companies in Europe, with these businesses collectively spending an average of 9.7% of sales revenues on research and development. This compares with 5% for the rest of manufacturing industry.

The key sectors in European optics production were identified as:

  • Lighting (15%)
  • Measurement & automated vision (14%)
  • Production technology (13%)
  • Medical technology & life science (13%)
  • Defense photonics (12%)
  • Optical components & systems (11%)
  • Optical communications (7%)
  • Solar energy (7%)
  • Information technology (5%)
  • Flat panel displays (3%)

Germany accounts for 39% of European production volume with particular expertise in medical applications and production technology. France and the UK follow with 12% each, with France known for optical communications and the UK for defense applications.

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