As a key technology, the field of photonics is also one of the major growth markets in the high-tech sector. Exactly what share the European Industry for Optical Technology has in this boom can be read in the study entitled "Photonics in Europe - Economic Impact," which was recently published by the "Photonics21" technology platform together with the European Commission. Here is a summary of the 64-page market analysis": The Europeans are way ahead in the process...
In 2005, worldwide sales for photonics products amounted to a total of € 228 billion. Based on an annual growth rate of 7.6 percent, the current study from Photonics21 calculates that the sales volume will reach € 439 billion by 2015. This is the equivalent of almost a doubling in sales during a ten-year period.
Even the European photonics industry is benefiting from this boom: In 2005, overall sales in the industry amounted to € 43.5 billion and increased the following year by 12 percent to € 49 billion. This equals a world market share of 19 percent. With their sales figures, the photonics industry in Europe will, in the meantime, reach the volume of another future-oriented industry, micro-electronics. Optical technology companies want to exceed this even further in the future and, at the same time, assure a larger share on the worldwide market.
The European photonics industry currently employs about 246,000 workers. Key sectors include the following industries:
- Lighting (15 percent),
- Optical technologies for instrumentation and automation (14 percent),
- Production technologies (13 percent),
- Medical technology and life sciences (13 percent),
- Defense technology (12 percent),
- Optical components and systems (11 percent),
- Optical communication (7 percent),
- Solar energy (7 percent),
- Information technology (5 percent),
- Flat screens (3 percent),
Germany ranks as one of the leading European countries in photonics with a production share of 39 percent. France and the UK follows each with 12 percent. German companies show major skills in this field, especially for medical applications and production technologies.
The European companies surveyed for this study indicated that they invest, on average, 9.7 percent of their sales in research and development. When it comes to further developing optical technologies, Europe-wide cooperative agreements for photonics as a future technology have been helpful. Such agreements have been intensely promoted by the European Community with initiatives such as the Photonics21 technology platform.
For more information on Photonics21 as well as the complete study for downloading, please visit www.photonics21.org.