Electronics, sensors and photonics

Electronics, sensors and photonics underpin activity in healthcare, energy, transport, environmental sustainability, built environment and across the consumer market.

Over 8000 companies in the UK's electronics industry are involved in designing and manufacturing products.  These companies generate around £29bn a year in revenues and contribute over £12bn to GVA. 

We see significant opportunities for the sector in plastic electronics, power electronics, electronic systems, sensor systems and photonics.


The main challenges for the electronics sector in the UK include the prohibitive cost of product development and manufacturing (particularly for early-stage companies), a fragmented supply chain, a general lack of vertically integrated companies that can realise products with an internal supply, and a fiercely competitive global market.

Some of the SMEs in the sector have difficulty supplying to large companies, retailers and consumer groups, which often prefer to deal with other large companies to avoid the risks of a poorly understood single source of knowledge or material and a low level of financial security. 


We see significant opportunities for the sector in plastic electronics, power electronics, electronic systems, sensor systems and photonics.

We will invest in electronics, sensors and photonics innovation through technology-inspired competitions as well as through sector-specific challenge programmes where there are specific electronics, sensors and photonics-related needs.  These sectors will include energy and health.

Our priorities


  • Biophotonics – applying lasers, sensors, imaging etc to medical diagnostics, surgery, therapeutic approaches, etc.
  • Smart imaging and sensing systems for safety and security markets
  • Lasers for industrial processes
  • Innovative solid state lighting
  • Photovoltaics for low carbon electricity generation

Sensor systems:

  • Design and integration of technologies to develop sensor systems with intelligence and optimised control

Power electronics:

  • In key sectors such as the energy sector where power electronics and associated control/ICT are key enablers of a robust, resilient future electricity system

Plastic electronics

  • Demonstrator programmes to prove the capabilities of plastic electronics to potential users in different market sectors

Electronic systems

  • Engineering of embedded electronic systems tailored to applications in healthcare, transport, the built environment, and in industrial and consumer fields mainly through the ARTEMIS programme

Further information:

Electronics, Sensors, Photonics Knowledge Transfer Network
Energy Harvesting Special Interest Group
Energy Efficient Computing Special Interest Group
Smart DC: Special Interest Group

EU programmes

Biophotonics plus

Last updated on Monday 19 November 2012 at 12:48

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