UK photonics events expand and evolve

Posted on: 15/07/2019

It’s a busy time for the UK photonics sector, with a vibrant events calendar for this dynamic and expanding sector.

Photonics businesses in the UK have a busy calendar when it comes to conferences and exhibitions internationally.


UK photonics companies are big exporters, with over 75% of output exported, and conferences and exhibitions have a valuable role to play in connecting the photonics ecosystem.


June saw the biennial Laser World of Photonics in Munich, where 70 UK organisations were exhibiting, either on the UK pavilion or individually. Many of the same companies could also be found at Photonics West, the largest worldwide optics and photonics event, CLEO (focussing on laser science), ECOC (fibre communications) and several others.


The large UK presence at these international events is vital for networking between UK companies as well as for meeting overseas customers and collaborators – KTN worked with the UK Department for International Trade to run networking activity at Photonics West in 2018 to encourage this activity and help facilitate potential collaborations.


There is no shortage of photonics events closer to home either. The Institute of Physics holds the Photon conference once every two years. This four-day conference includes an two-day Industry Technology Programme (ITP). In 2018, KTN supported a ITP session on optical communications, which was strongly attended by industry. The Photon conference also runs an exhibition, with 38 companies exhibiting last year. Photon 2020 will be held at East Midlands Conference Centre, Nottingham, UK from 1-4 September 2020.


The only annual commercial event is the Photonex series, run by Xmark Media, which centres on a large conference in October (Photonex Europe, 9th and 10th October in Ricoh Arena, Coventry) and Photonex roadshows in Scotland and around the UK. SPIE, the International Society for Optics and Photonics (and organiser of Photonics West), recently announced that it was acquiring Xmark media, which will strengthen its UK presence and support its European activities run by SPIE Europe, which is headquartered in Cardiff.


Scotland has always been a popular venue for photonics events. There has been a Photonex roadshow there since 2014 and SPIE has held several events in Edinburgh. Scotland has also benefited from a dedicated annual photonics conference, run by the science bridges project SU2P which supports researcher exchanges between Scottish universities and Stanford University. Photonics Scotland, the trade association for Scottish photonics companies, has now signalled its intention to run a 2020 event (date and venue tbc), possibly in collaboration with SPIE, building on the success of the 2019 Scottish Photonics Week.


Next year may see some exciting developments as Photonex comes fully under the SPIE umbrella and potentially a new conference begins in Scotland. It’s clear that UK Photonics continues to be a dynamic scene.


To contact KTN about our work in the Photonics sector, get in touch with Matthew Wasley, Knowledge Transfer Manager, Photonics.

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