Glasgow, Scotland--The high value of the laser industry to Scotland's economy has been highlighted in a report by Jim Mather, the Scottish minister for enterprise, energy, and tourism.
The study, "50 Years of Lasers in Scotland," finds that sales of laser-enabled photonics were worth £660 million 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 that has occurred in each of the last five decades.
The report was launched at the National Celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Laser, held at Glasgow Science Centre. Keynote speakers included U.S. Secretary of State 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, Eric Cornell of the University of Colorado and Roy Glauber of Harvard University, also spoke at the event. All three are due to receive honorary degrees from the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow during their visit. Chu spoke on solutions for sustainable energy, while Cornell and Glauber both spoke on quantum optics.
The Scottish laser industry pursues 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 report on Scotland's laser industry showed that most of the companies export more than 85% of their products, and up to 20% of the laser companies' workforce are postgraduates, making it a highly knowledge-intensive industry. In addition, Scotland's laser companies invest an average of 5% in research and development. The report also noted that, 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.
Foundations of the report
The 50 Years of Lasers in Scotland report was commissioned by a consortium of laser-based industry partners. A National Celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Laser was organized by University of Strathclyde's Department of Physics, in cooperation with the Scottish Universities Physics Alliance, The Institute of Physics, SPIE, OSA and the IEEE Photonics Society.
Financial support for the National Celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Laser was provided by the University of Strathclyde, Scottish Enterprise, Thales, Coherent, Edinburgh Instruments, the Scottish Optoelectronics Association, Optos, M Squared, and SELEX Galileo.
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