European Photonics Sector to Create 1 Million New Jobs by 2030

Posted Feb 13, 2018 by Prerit Tomar

Instant diagnosis of major diseases, the eradication of all road accidents, and the creation of 1 million new jobs are some of the benefits that will be generated by the Photonics sector by 2030 according to a new vision paper published by Photonics21.

The vision paper 'Europe's Age of Light' sets out a new strategy for the future of European photonics highlighting what could be achieved if this technology is maintained by the EU as a key funding priority in Framework Programme 9 (FP9). The paper was created through consultation with the photonics community, including more than 1,700 companies and research organizations.

The paper demonstrates how Photonics or light-based technologies are critical to enabling a future where driverless vehicles can eradicate road accidents, where advanced healthcare diagnostics allow instant detection of disease, and where industrial production will be revolutionized creating 1 million new jobs by 2030.

The Vision Paper highlights how European leadership in photonics will deliver wide-ranging benefits by 2030 including:

  • Transport - In 2030, mobility will be based on multimodal transport where driving will be automated, connected and electric to maximise safety, efficiency and comfort. Photonics provides essential components, systems and production tools for all aspects of connected mobility, from driver assistance and traffic monitoring to photonics-based IT and telecommunications.
  • Health - In 2030, healthcare will be fast, precise and cost-effective. Advanced diagnostics, pervasive monitoring and innovative e-health applications will be able to detect body signals, symptoms and diseases early on. Treatment will be targeted, minimally invasive and increasingly effective, reducing disability and mortality from cancer, strokes and other major diseases. Diagnosis and treatment will be delivered instantly at the point of care, thanks to the new science of "theranostics." With the help of these and other innovations, Europe will keep an ageing population healthy and fit.
  • Jobs - In 2030, European factories will be fast, green and flexible. Photonics technology, including lasers, sensors and 3D displays, will revolutionise industrial production and working environments, making manufacturing more innovative, cost-competitive and resource-efficient. A fully digital value chain from supplier to customer will give birth to new forms of collaboration and customisation, new services and new business models – all of which will strengthen Europe's industrial base and create up to 1 million new jobs.
  • Food - In 2030, the technology to feed the world, to push back food-borne illness, and to reduce the environmental footprint of agriculture, fisheries and aquaculture will exist. Photonics will help supply safe, nutritious and affordable food for all and establish a sustainable value chain from farm to fork. By using more precise sensors and measuring devices, farmers, food processors and ordinary consumers will be able to monitor and certify the safety, quality, content and even the origin of food – anytime and anywhere.

The paper also outlines the potential for Europe to increase its market share. The global photonics market is poised to grow to €615 billion by 2020. With a share of 15.5%, Europe is the world's second-biggest supplier of photonics after China. However, with Chinese research and development currently focusing on photovoltaics, displays, lighting and other commodity products, Europe is the centre of global photonics innovation today.

With over 10% of the sector's revenues spent on R&D and with European photonics clusters linking companies with universities, research facilities and public-sector agencies across disciplines, industrial sectors and countries, the report shows that the European photonics industry is committed to achieving its goals.