Photonics Finland, just recently, carried out a business survey on Finnish photonics industry. The results show that the development since 2016, when the last survey took place, has been better than anticipated. The photonics Industry employs today 4200 highly trained people and has an annual turnover exceeding 1,2billion€ with about 260 companies acting in the field. Sixty percent of the companies are relatively small employing from 10 to 15 people. Indirect impact on workforce covers jobs of about 30 000 employers. Information and communications sector has grown to 9% from overall total of 2% in 2016. Photonics in industrial production/manufacturing and quality monitor has declined from 28% in 2016 to 22% in 2020. Sectors of life science and health, emerging lighting, electronics and displays, security, metrology and sensors, design and manufacture of optical components and systems, research, education and training have roughly kept their percent share quotas.
By far the biggest photonics output is in manufacture of optical components, systems and instruments at 60%, followed by services, raw materials and distributors. Forty percent of the companies are totally dependent on exports, the main marketing areas being EU, US and Asia. Companies estimate that in the coming three years their turnovers will increase nearly 40%, and is not much slowed down by the ongoing COVID-19 epidemy.
Companies strive for finding new foreign and domestic partners, they focus on recruiting highly trained experts from Finland and from abroad. They continue relying on their traditional partners including Photonics Finland that has gained trust as a promoter of the field within governmental actors and investors. Photonics Finland will continue organizing Photonics for workshops to distribute up-to-date information for companies on advancements of photonics in areas like health, forestry and food. Improved efforts are needed for search of talented human resources from both educational sector (exposure to photonics) and experts (recruitments). To guarantee growth, companies see market and technology analyses of increasing importance for their future. They have to find their ways to places where they can get niche expertise that would support their product development. Success in search for investors and low-cost loans were considered fundamental to quarantee growth of start-up companies.
Finnish photonics companies want to continue and further improve co-operation with universities and research institutions. An excellent opportunity for this appeared recently as the Aalto University and the Universities of Tampere and Eastern Finland were granted an eight-year flagship research program PREIN funded by the Academy of Finland. Companies considered such an investment as a good use of taxpayer’s money. Companies want to join and support the events organized by the PREIN consortium and Photonics Finland. They want to create focused bilateral academia-company research projects within the program with the aim to develop existing and new products. Visibility of photonics could be enhanced together both in political circles as well as towards public by more efficient use of media. Efforts to expose photonics, as an enabling technology that has a broad-range of applications from health to communication, to school children and gymnasia students in particular girls and women were considered important. In general, companies wish to make better use of domestic know how both from the academic world and the industry. Future for the Finnish photonics industry looks good!