Photonics Hub Drives Bright Future for UK Manufacturing

Future Photonics Hub

The Future Photonics Hub is responding to the needs of industry by creating new photonics materials, devices and components, designed to be easy to manufacture and integrate with existing technologies.

Professor Sir David Payne Principal Investigator & Director of the Future Photonics Hub

Above: Zepler Institute clean rooms are one of the best academic clean rooms in Europe

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Photonics is the science of light and delivers hidden technologies we often take for granted. Although we cannot see them, these transformational technologies fundamentally enable countless facets of modern life. Fibre optics that underpin the internet, fibre lasers used in eye surgery and next generation technologies such as silicon photonics are revolutionising everything from data centres to consumer electronics.

The UK is an international leading light in photonics research. Our science base has already given rise to a globally significant market that continues to expand at an impressive rate.

In 2021, the Photonics Leadership Group reported that this fast-growing industry delivers £14.5bn per year to the economy, is growing 12% annually and employs an impressive 76,900 people.

Investing in future photonics innovation is critical to retaining the UK’s competitive edge in the £400bn global photonics market and offers vast potential to stimulate wider economic growth.

The Future Photonics Hub exists to secure the UK’s position as a leading innovator in the high value global photonics market by transferring new, practical and commercial process technologies to industry.

The Hub bridges the gap between academic research and product development, uniting the UK science base with industry and funding agencies to co-invest in R&D.

In collaboration with industry and the wider academic community, the Hub is maximising the impact of the Government’s investment and making great strides in uniting the UK photonics community.

In the six years since inception the Hub has more than tripled the impact of the initial Government investment, generating more than £18m of income from industry securing an additional £16m in competitively won grant funding to further accelerate next generation manufacturing research.

It’s been astounding to see the game-changing innovations that continue to emerge from the Hub. We know that when scientists and engineers come together to think about manufacturing, they come up with new ideas. But it’s all about delivery.

Southampton spinout company Lumenisity is going from strength to strength, building a fibre fabrication facility in the local area. A long-term partnership in silicon photonics with Rockley Photonics has seen the company successfully break into the global healthcare market and work in high power lasers with UK partner, Trumpf, leading the charge towards next generation, low emission manufacturing. So much has been delivered and the exciting thing is, we’re just getting started.

The Hub’s £1m Photonics Innovation Fund has mobilised a national network of academic partners, primed to respond to emerging industrial challenges with a wide range of expertise.

Funds have been awarded to projects led by UK researchers offering new capabilities relevant to industry but outside of the Hub’s core expertise. This has enabled us to join forces with institutions such as the universities of Oxford, Cambridge, Bristol, Bangor and Strathclyde in our shared mission.

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“The Hub’s £1m Photonics Innovation Fund has mobilised a national network of academic partners”

Above: Innovation Fund mobilises wider network of UK researchers in shared mission