Photonics innovation is vital to the digitization of European industry and future prosperity.
Digital technologies, and associated new business models, are transforming society and the traditional industrial base at an exponential rate. This new digital industrial revolution – known as Industry 4.0 – holds the promise of increased flexibility in manufacturing, mass customization, increased speed, better quality and improved productivity. Digital technologies make it easier and more profitable for companies to bundle goods and services together, allowing for the integration of intelligence and connectivity with everything tangible and physical, thereby leading to the creation of the world of “smart” things (smart phones, smart homes, smart cars, smart factories, smart cities, etc.) – indeed the digitization of our whole world. The ubiquitous use of sensors, the expansion of wireless communication networks, the deployment of increasingly intelligent robots and machines – as well as increased computing power at lower cost and the development of 'big data' analytics – all have the combined potential to transform the way goods are manufactured in Europe, and how jobs are created and sustained into the future.
Photonics – the science and technology of harnessing light - is everywhere around us now. Yet we are only at the beginning of what is possible. As one of the six pillar Key Enabling Technologies (KETs), photonics is essential to the functioning of the new applications which are powering Industry 4.0 and which are needed to address our major societal challenges. New advances in photonics will revolutionize so many industries and have far-reaching implications for business and society. Photonics technologies will be used to launch all sorts of new and better products in wide-ranging end-user industries from sustainable energy and environmental safety, to healthcare and wearables, to intelligent transport and communications systems, as well as being a key enabling technology for the transformation of production methods and new business models in European manufacturing.