15:30 – 17:30
UK capabilities in photonics (& new allied technologies): current status, demands and drivers, future prospects, and opportunities for growth

Workshop chairs:

  • Prof Andrew Lord, BT
  • James Regan, EFFECT Photonics

The UK is one of the top 5 photonics manufacturers and innovators globally, with companies manufacturing and delivering services based on photonics technology employing over 75,000 people and output forecast by The Photonics Leadership Group to grow to £16 billion in 2022.  Photonics systems are at the core of digital services, optical communications, autonomous transport, and at the heart of the harnessing the tremendous promise of quantum science.

At the same time, the UK Government is keen to incentivise industry to create new products and services to support its goals to diversify the 5G supply chain and to unlock the full potential of Open RAN, bringing the benefits to everyone of ultra-high capacity, green internet services, upon which society increasingly relies for work, education, health and well-being, social contacts and entertainment, as has been clearly demonstrated since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This workshop will bring together key stakeholders and representatives from government, regulators, innovators, strategists and analysts to review the current status of UK capabilities in photonics, particularly as related to optical communications and the future requirements in 5G RAN and beyond 5G, to consider present societal demands and business drivers, and to examine future prospects for photonic technologies and new opportunities for short, medium, and long-term growth.


  • John Lincoln, Photonics Leadership Group
  • Iain Mauchline, Innovate UK
  • Will Stewart, OFCOM
  • Carlos Lee, EPIC


The dawning Optical Fibre Age is different – really

Prof Will Stewart, FREng, HonFIET, FInstP, FOSA

It is traditional to see the development of civilization in tech-defined ‘ages’, and so far as communications is concerned we started a century ago in a ‘copper age’ which is now fading into an optical fibre age, which will have a huge impact.  Of course the optical fibre dates back to the work of Charles Kao in 1967 (with the UK making and continuing to make key contributions) but its arrival with actual users in the access network is only now developing. The real significance of this has yet to be felt – there is a rise of many orders of magnitude in the capacity potentially available to each user – to levels far beyond anything offered by the RF spectrum.  At last we have plenty of room at the top! (of the e/m spectrum).  And this is vital – already Ofcom records data flows to the user on ‘fixed’ (including fibre and WiFi) as 100 times those on mobile, and still rising fast.


Europe in the global photonics landscape

Carlos Lee, EPIC


Innovate UK & Photonics

Iain Mauchline, Innovate UK

A brief introduction to Innovate UK – the general background and role that Innovate UK has in promoting and furthering the UK’s innovation and technology. As part of UK Research and Innovation, Innovate UK drives productivity and economic growth by supporting businesses to develop and realise the potential of new ideas including those from the UK’s world-class research base.

Support and Funding Opportunities – an overview of grants and other funding mechanism available and the support network that Innovate UK can offer e.g. KTN , EDGE, KTP.

Photonics @ Innovate UK – Examples of project areas currently running related to photonics. The future vision of photonics at Innovate UK as a key enabling and cross cutting technology.

Workshop speakers