QUEBEC CITY, Nov. 26, 2019 /CNW Telbec/ - Optonique, Quebec's center of excellence in optics-photonics, has released its first overview of the photonics industry, a little-known sector of the Quebec economy that is nevertheless internationally renowned for its expertise. For the project Optonique surveyed its members to better understand the sector's strengths and challenges, and help it continue to expand.
The study shows that the Quebec photonics sector contributes $3 billion annually to Canada's GDP—about as much as Quebec's pharmaceutical industry. With over 220 companies and 22,000 jobs, the photonics industry is a significant driver of the Quebec economy. With its many applications across a wide variety of fields, photonics increases the competitiveness of many sectors in Quebec as well as their economic impact.
"This initial study confirms that the sector is doing very well," said Optonique general manager Marie-Christine Ferland. "We were surprised to see how much business has grown—6% per year on average in the sector, and 28% for small businesses! The Quebec optics-photonics sector is in an excellent position within the global market."
Photonics companies in Quebec are largely international—even very small companies with fewer than 10 employees that already export over half of the value of their production.
"Export is a large part of our company's activities," said Ehva co-founder Raphaël Dubé-Demers. "International clients appreciate the expertise we offer and the value of our productivity and automated characterization process solution. Companies choose to invest in us to set up sales forces."
"Technological leadership—particularly in photonics—is essential to value creation," said Germain Lamonde, founder and executive president of EXFO. "By focusing on excellence, EXFO has become the world leader in optical fiber test instruments and has helped establish critical telecommunications and Internet infrastructures around the world, while generating over $5 billion in exports and $1.5 billion in payroll in Quebec since the company's modest beginnings in my apartment. We are proud of this exceptional contribution and to have helped set the stage for many entrepreneurs."
"Photonics is the sector of the future in Quebec, especially when combined with digital technologies like AI," said Alain Chandonnet, president and CEO of INO. "We need to support our small and medium-size companies in this process by creating a strong ecosystem."
However, the industry is not only international in scope. Quebec is known for its expertise and is highly attractive to international companies, which now make up a quarter of all organizations in the sector.
But a shadow hanging over the sector—a lack of workers and financing—is hampering the growth of many optics-photonics companies.
The lack of resources due to an insufficient labor pool and the disconnect between training and required skills affects small and medium-size companies most acutely. In addition to recruitment difficulties, financing challenges are compromising not only growth, but also the industry's ability to maintain the intense innovation it has seen in recent years.
Optics-photonics is therefore one of many areas that will face future challenges. However, Optonique is confident that thanks to Quebec's ecosystem and expertise, the sector will continue to thrive in the coming years and will remain an international reference point in the field.
Optonique, Quebec's center of excellence in optics-photonics, was officially announced by government representatives on September 5, 2017. It is recognized by Quebec's Ministère de l'Économie et de l'Innovation (MEI) and receives support through the ACCORD (Action concertée de coopération régionale de développement) initiative. It is also supported by the federal and municipal governments via a partnership with the Canada Economic Development (CED) agency and the City of Quebec.
The center for excellence seeks to strengthen and represent Quebec's optics-photonics ecosystem, increase capacity to carry out value-added core projects, and foster innovation, creativity, and competitiveness.
For further information: Antoine Kack, TACT, Office: 581-984-0159, [email protected]