The world’s largest annual photonics event, SPIE Photonics West, which includes BiOS, LASE, OPTO, Quantum West, the BiOS Expo, the Photonics West exhibition, and the co-located AR|VR|MR conference and exhibition, took place from 27th January to 1st February 2024 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. Innovation, research, and insights about emerging technology were in the spotlight, presented by world-class speakers and industry experts.

Technology Scotland was in attendance to represent our members and raise awareness of the Scottish photonics cluster (Photonics Scotland) and their capabilities. Several of our members had booths at the exhibition: Fraunhofer UK, Kelvin NanotechnologySkylark, Photon Force, PowerPhotonic, and UK Astronomy Technology Centre.

One of the first events of the week was the SPIE Global Business Forum, the new annual gathering for industry executives to learn about the optics and photonics market which put a focus on growth in the optics and photonics sector, sharing information and advancing the industry.  The event this year was sold out: the date for next year is Mondy 27th January 2025.

Having the opportunity to meet with our international counterparts, raise awareness of the capabilities of the Scottish photonics sector and discuss potential collaborations is always a key element of the trip. We participated in the Cluster Leaders meeting, with clusters from Canada, Finland, Germany, Greece, Israel, Lithuania, Scotland, Spain, Switzerland and USA, where we discussed the future direction of the Global Photonics Alliance and how best to effectively engage for the best outcomes for photonics globally. Following this meeting we attended the SPIE photonics cluster leaders reception, where we met organisations spanning the globe.

We also had a chance to connect further with our international cluster counterparts at two networking breakfast meetings hosted by The Consulate General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in San Francisco and by Lithuania’s Innovation Agency in collaboration with the Lithuanian Laser Association.

I was very proud to once again be one of the judges for the PRISM Awards, an annual international competition that honours the best new optics and photonics products on the market.  Congratulations to the 2024 winners!  Our Photonics Scotland chair, Christopher Dorman OBE, announced the winner and presented the award for the Lasers category.

The Department of Business and Trade hosted a series of events througout the week of Photonics West 2024 to showcase the organisations attending from the UK.

  • A breakfast briefing where delegates were introduced to the UK Governmental bodies supporting activity at Photonics West including the Science and Innovation Network, UK Research and Innovation, Global Talent Network and members from the Department for Business and Trade.
  • A panel session to meet thought leaders and Silicon Valley VCs in the photonics industry, to better understanding of the current investment landscape, and understand the criteria they use when selecting investment opportunities.
  • An evening reception to showcase UK talent and meet the British photonics companies attending PW’24.

SPIE Photonics West 2024 featured more than 1,500 exhibitors, over 24,000 technical professionals registered from more than 70 countries across the international optics and photonics community, and included greater than 5,000 technical presentations throughout the week, reminding us all of the ubiquitous nature of photonics.

SPIE Photonics West 2025 is scheduled to take place from 25th – 30th January at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. The call for papers for the 2025 event will open in spring 2024.