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South Australia Rolls Out Updated Photonics Roadmap

South Australia has solidified its reputation as a world-class hub for the photonics industry, which is experiencing significant growth globally. This growth is being driven by the increasing demand for photonics technologies, including areas such as communication, healthcare, and energy.

The state of South Australia has a strong presence in the photonics industry, with many businesses operating in this field and contributing to the local economy. In the next five years, these businesses are expected to experience significant growth in revenue, reflecting the growing demand for photonics technologies and products. The success of the photonics industry in South Australia showcases the state’s commitment to innovation and its position as a leader in this field.

The report titled “Lighting a New Path: Global Opportunities for the Photonics Industry in South Australia” was commissioned by the South Australian Government and released in December 2022. It evaluates the advancements made in the photonics industry in the state over the past six years, since the development of the first photonics roadmap in 2016. The report provides insight into the progress made and serves as a reflection of the efforts and achievements of the South Australian government and the photonics industry.

Photonics is a field of science that deals with the study of light and its properties. Its innovations have found practical applications in a wide range of industries, including defence and space, healthcare and biotechnology, energy and mining, cutting-edge manufacturing, and agriculture.

These applications make use of the unique properties of light to create new technologies and solve complex problems in these industries. Photonics has the potential to significantly impact various aspects of modern life and shape the future.

The report highlights that South Australia has gained a competitive edge by concentrating on the branches of photonics that offer higher returns and lower competition. This focus has allowed the state to establish expertise in rapidly growing areas, such as quantum-related photonics research and development.

By doing so, South Australia has positioned itself at the forefront of these cutting-edge fields and has created unique opportunities for growth and innovation. The report emphasizes the significance of this strategy in fostering a strong and thriving photonics industry in South Australia.

According to the 2016 report, South Australia’s photonics industry was estimated to have an output of AU$ 200 million. However, within just six years, this figure has skyrocketed to AU$ 614 million. This impressive growth is reflected in the increase in the local photonics workforce, which grew from 800 jobs to approximately 1,500 jobs over the same period. These figures demonstrate the substantial progress made by the South Australian photonics industry and its continued expansion and success.

Co-Author Dr Alexis Mendez, the President of MCH Engineering, describes photonics as an enabling technology that has a broad range of applications and impacts a variety of industries. Photonics is a versatile and powerful technology that is used in many different fields, enabling new innovations and solutions to complex problems. According to Dr Mendez, photonics is a key driver of technological advancement and has the potential to transform numerous industries and areas.

Over the past six years, there has been a marked expansion in the ecosystem for optics and photonics in South Australia. This growth can be attributed to various factors, such as increased investment, the development of new technologies, and the growth of the local photonics industry.

As a result, the state has seen a significant increase in the number of businesses operating in this field, the growth of the local workforce, and the expansion of photonics-related research and development. These developments have created a supportive environment for the growth of the photonics industry in South Australia and have positioned the state as a leader in this field. The growth of the optics and photonics ecosystem has significant implications for the local economy and is poised to drive further innovation and progress in the years to come.

Dr Mendez stated that the team noted the development of new programs, facilities, and funds that have collectively improved the hi-tech infrastructure for SA entrepreneurs. This has led to the rapid growth of new commercial activity, particularly in the defence sector, while already established SA photonics-based businesses are beginning to re-engineer products and move into new markets.

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