European Photonics Outstrips Global GDP Growth

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According to recent figures published by deep technology research group Tematys, the European photonics industry is growing at a rate close to double that of the global GDP. The industry, a new report says, is outperforming the European Union (EU) GDP and EU industrial production by three and five times, respectively.

The new study looked at the industry’s figures between 2015 and 2019, which showed a CAGR of 7%. At the end of the period, the industry was worth over €103 billion ($123 billion).

In terms of employment figures, the European photonics industry outperformed the manufacturing sector across the continent. With a workforce numbering more than 390,000 and an annual growth rate of 2.1%, the European photonics industry grew twice as fast as European manufacturing for the then-28 countries in the European Union, which had a CAGR of around 1%.

Revenue growth for the same period was three times that of the entire European GDP, coming in at 7% per year compared to 2.1% for GDP growth. Compared to the growth of European industrial production, which was 1.5%, photonics grew almost five times as much.

“With a global growth rate of CAGR 7%, photonics is growing faster than many other high-tech industries, for example, the IT industry (4.5%), medtech (4.9%), and microelectronics (4%),” said  Giorgio Anania, vice president of the European technology platform Photonics21.

From 2015 to 2019, Europe maintained a clear second position in the global photonics market against international competition. Although Europe and North America had held a joint 16% global market share in 2015, the new research showed Europe had nudged slightly ahead to 16%, with North America at 15%. China continued to dominate with 29% of the global market share.

The study revealed several core market segments where Europe holds a significant market share. While Europe had an average market share of 16% for all markets, in Industry 4.0, for example, Europe had a CAGR of 40%. In optical instrumentation, Europe had a CAGR of 38%, while in large instruments and space the CAGR was 33%.

The photonics industry grew to a global market size of approximately $790 billion in 2019, with a CAGR of 7%. Assuming a somewhat conservative estimate of a continued CAGR of 6%, the Tematys study indicates that the global photonics industry will reach about $1 trillion by 2025.

The full report is available at

Published: June 2021
The technology of generating and harnessing light and other forms of radiant energy whose quantum unit is the photon. The science includes light emission, transmission, deflection, amplification and detection by optical components and instruments, lasers and other light sources, fiber optics, electro-optical instrumentation, related hardware and electronics, and sophisticated systems. The range of applications of photonics extends from energy generation to detection to communications and...
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