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Laser Industry Worth $1B to Scottish Economy

Photonics.com
Nov 2010
GLASGOW, Scotland, Nov. 4, 2010 — The high value of the laser industry to Scotland's economy has been revealed in a major new report by Scottish Minister for Enterprise, Energy & Tourism, Jim Mather.

The study, 50 Years of Lasers in Scotland, finds that sales of laser-enabled photonics were worth £660 million (about $1 billion) to the Scottish economy in 2009 and that the industry employs 3000 people in Scotland. The nation currently has 82 companies working in the field of laser-enabled photonics and is in a strong position to continue the growth in the sector which has occurred in each of the last five decades.

The report was launched at A National Celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Laser, an event highlighting Scotland's role in the expansion of the industry since the first laser demonstration in 1960. Keynote speakers included US Secretary of Energy Dr. Steven Chu, who was appointed to President Barack Obama's administration in 2009 and who jointly won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1997.

Two other Nobel Physics Laureates, Professor Eric Cornell of the University of Colorado and Professor Roy Glauber of Harvard University, also spoke at the event, at Glasgow Science Center. All three are due to receive honorary degrees from the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland during their visit.

Lasers are at the heart of most of today's most lucrative and widely-used technologies, including computers, telecommunications and DVDs. The sector in Scotland pursues valuable opportunities through ventures such as SU2P, a partnership between institutions in Scotland and California for converting dynamic research in lasers and optics into commercial ventures. It is based in the Institute of Photonics at Strathclyde.

“The laser is integral to modern industry- supporting high-value manufacturing, world-class research and highly skilled jobs,” said Mather. “The 50 Years of Lasers in Scotland document highlights this sector's importance to the Scottish economy - with laser-enabled photonic sales contributing £660 million last year.

“It's great to be here to celebrate 50 years of the laser and to reiterate the Scottish Government's commitment to doing all we can to support businesses, to encourage innovation, and to facilitate operation in the global marketplace.”

The report on Scotland's laser sector also shows that:
  • Most of the companies export more than 85% of their products
  • Up to 20% of the laser companies' workforce are postgraduates, making it a highly knowledge- intensive sector
  • Scotland's laser companies invest an average of 5% in research and development
  • Laser-enabled photonics sales have increased every decade since 1960s
Owing to the presence of multinational companies such as Thales, SELEX Galileo and Coherent, Scotland can claim to be a world leader in the design, development and manufacture of high-value lasers and systems.

“Scotland has both a strong academic base and a thriving laser industry that manufactures cutting edge technology which is exported the world over,” said the report’s author, Jacqueline Hewett. “The country's flair for innovation, engineering and manufacturing ensures that some of today's most sophisticated lasers and laser-based systems are designed, developed and manufactured on its shores.”

For more information, visit:  www.strath.ac.uk 




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