A thousand leading-edge companies
About 1,000 companies in Germany currently operate in the sector, including major names like Bosch, Jenoptik, Trumpf, Zeiss, Schott, Agfa-Gevaert, Osram and Laserline, and business has been booming. Between 2005 and 2019, revenue rose 220 percent, from EUR 17 billion to EUR 37.5 billion. Exports grew 1.6 percent last year to EUR 27.1 billion, with the greatest number of sales in the European Union, followed by Asia and North America.
“Photonics has been outperforming GDP growth in Germany for years, thus steadily increasing its importance,” says Max Milbredt, photonics senior manager at Germany Trade & Invest. “We have also seen growing interest in terms of foreign direct investment. The German market is shifting toward measurement and control, medical technology and production technology, largely due to Germany’s efforts to make the digital networking of industry a reality.”
The country also boasts its share of luminaries, among them Stefan W. Hell, director at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen, who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2014 for his pioneering work in ultra-high-resolution fluorescence microscopy, which surpassed the limitations of the light microscope.