SPIE programs build bridges for industry success

01 May 2024
By Jennifer Barton

Working in biomedical optics, I am keenly aware of the potential and realized impacts of optics and photonics technologies on people’s lives. My research particularly focuses on developing endoscopes for the early detection of ovarian cancer, and the tangible human impact is a large part of what drives me and my team to work in this field. I know many of us in optics and photonics are motivated by doing work that will have a larger impact on society, and our field is perfectly positioned for this.

What may surprise some SPIE Members is the broader economic and commercial impact of our industry. At SPIE’s Global Business Forum during Photonics West 2024, the Society released its latest Global Industry Report, which highlights the impact of optics and photonics worldwide. SPIE reports that global annual revenues from the production of optics and photonics core components reached $368 billion in 2022. In addition, the study projects global annual revenue for photonics-enabled products will exceed $2.3 trillion in 2023. That is some serious impact!

While the size of an industry may not motivate an individual to enter the field as much as making a groundbreaking discovery or saving lives, this data—and SPIE more broadly—shows funders, investors, and policymakers why optics and photonics matter. SPIE also works closely with industry clusters and trade organizations like the US National Photonics Initiative, the UK Photonics Leadership Group, and the EU’s Photonics21, among others, to ensure that our industry is represented appropriately in national and international budget and policy discussions. These groups also meet at Photonics West and other SPIE events. Where applicable and possible, I encourage you to attend and participate in the meetings; these groups value your expertise.

SPIE has always been at the forefront of bringing the optics and photonics industry together and connecting researchers to suppliers through its conferences and exhibitions. While the large amounts of money cited in the SPIE Global Industry Report may be shocking to some people, anyone who has walked the exhibit floor at SPIE Photonics West knows how big and truly awe-inspiring our industry is firsthand. Showcasing the global reach and impact of photonics, there were 12 international pavilions at Photonics West 2024, and many included representatives from their respective governments to witness this impact.

The SPIE Global Industry Report also reports that worldwide core optics components production employs more than 1.25 million people. To help keep that workforce vibrant, the Society hosts job fairs at many of its events, providing exhibiting companies access to talent. Online, SPIE has a newly redesigned job board, where corporate members get five free postings.

Whether the promise of saving lives, seeing further into the galaxy, or contributing to a $300-billion-plus industry motivated you to join the optics and photonics community, SPIE provides the tools and resources to help you and our industry succeed.


 Jennifer Barton

2024 SPIE President


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