European Commission logo
English English
CORDIS - EU research results

Article Category

Content archived on 2024-04-19

Article available in the following languages:

Europe’s photonics industry holds 2nd place global ranking

A new market report has analysed the state of Europe’s photonics industry, and it’s thriving.

Industrial Technologies icon Industrial Technologies

Photonics is a key driver for technological innovation in the 21st century. The science of generating, manipulating and controlling particles of light called photons, photonics underpins technologies ranging from lighting and computer screens to medical instruments and self-driving cars. Since 2015, the global photonics market has grown by 7 % each year, but what is the state of Europe’s photonics industry? According to a new report published by European Technology Platform Photonics21 with support from the EU-funded NextPho21 and BestPhorm21 projects, the news for Europe’s photonics industry is overwhelmingly good. Between 2015 and 2019, European photonics grew from EUR 76 billion to EUR 103 billion, achieving a 7 % annual growth rate. What’s more, Europe maintained its 2nd place world ranking with 16 % of the global market share. China ranks 1st, continuing to lead with 29 %. North America (with 15 %) and Japan (13 %) follow. The report also highlighted the photonic market segments in which Europe has a substantial market share. Whereas Europe’s overall market share in 2019 was 16 %, in Industry 4.0 (mainly processing and machine vision) European production amounted to EUR 19.1 billion, or 40 % of the global market. With a global market share of 38 % and 33 % respectively, Europe was also very well positioned in optical instrumentation and in large instruments and space. Europe’s rapidly growing photonics industry is growing at three times the rate of EU GDP (2.3 % per year) and almost 5 times as fast as industrial production overall (1.5 % per year). “The European photonics industry is thriving, and this study confirms that light technologies have a proven track record as a long-term driver of growth not only in Europe but also across the world,” commented Photonics21 Vice President Giorgio Anania in a news item posted on the Photonics21 website. “With a global growth rate of … 7 %, photonics is growing faster than many other high-tech industries, for example, the IT industry (4.5%), Medtech (4.9%), and Microelectronics (4%).”

Creating new jobs

In Europe, photonics also surpasses other industries in job creation. Photonics employment growth (2.1 % per year) is twice that of the whole European industry, with over 30 000 new jobs created between 2015 and 2019 to reach a total of 390 000 employees. The difference in growth between revenue and employment is due to the significant benefits gained from increased labour productivity in the industry. According to the report, the European photonics industry’s manufacturing processes are currently undergoing transformation, which is having a significant impact on jobs and skills. Key to maintaining the competitiveness of European photonics is investment in research and innovation. “While it may not be immediately apparent, photonics is a key enabling technology present in every next-generation innovation, in almost every industry,” stated Thierry Robin of TEMATYS, the consultant group that created the report funded by the NextPho21 (Developing and implementing the Next European Photonics21 industrial PPP Strategy) and BestPhorm21 (Boosting Europe’s Sovereignty in Technology by driving Photonics from Research to Market – Photonics21) projects. “Not only is photonics dramatically improving our next generation health diagnostic tools and manufacturing industries but also enabling green technologies that operate with non-invasive, clean, harmless particles of light.” For more information, please see: NextPho21 & BestPhorm21 project website


NextPho21, BestPhorm21, photonics, light, photon, Photonics21

Related articles