TSB recognises photonics as 1 of 4 vital enabling technologies that underpin UK innovation

What are the vital technologies that underpin UK innovation?


The UK's Technology Strategy Board has recognised that that photonics is one of a few technologies that are fundamental to innovation across all market sectors in the country. The full list of technologies are:

  • advanced materials
  • biosciences
  • electronics, sensors and photonics
  • information and communication technology (ICT).

These four ‘enabling’ technologies have a key role to play in helping business to meet some of the high-level challenges facing this country, in fields such as energy, food, healthcare, transport and the built environment.

The TSB Enabling Technologies Strategy outlines how the TSB is investing £20m per year over 2012-2015 to support innovation in these technologies where business opportunities are worth hundreds of billions of pounds globally and are growing at double-digit rates in some cases.

Between them, these industries consist of more than 196,000 companies.

Private investors are finding it difficult to invest in higher-risk, early-stage innovation across all four enabling technology areas in the current economic climate, making it hard for innovators to take their initial ideas to a level of maturity that will attract later rounds of investment or the engagement of potential users. The TSB will focus on accelerating the journey between initial concept and demonstrator so that the benefits of new technological developments are evident and the risk of further investment is reduced.

There will be upcoming funding opportunities linked to photonics very soon, according to the TSB.