How the UK’s lighting industry is facing the future

Tony Howells is the man promoting energy-efficient lighting in government

A year ago, the government teamed up with the lighting industry to launch the UK Lighting Sector Strategy – a plan for the growth and development of Britain’s lighting business. Tony Howells, a senior advisor at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (and Lux Person of the Year), was the key person behind the strategy. Here, Howells sets out how it’s being put into action.


We’re attracting talent

You may not be aware of the average age of engineers in the UK: it’s 57. We need to find a way to develop the next generation.

We are aiming high. The LIA has successfully attracted £1.3 million from BIS to add to a further £1.7 million from industry to develop the UK Lighting Skills Academy – a learning place and platform where all interested parties come together to develop skills from school level to apprenticeships and postgraduate.

Over the next 12 months we’re hoping to work with the Lighting Education Trust (LIT) to develop bursary and disability support for those who wish to take up the opportunities the UK lighting industry has to offer.

We are challenging the whole of UK lighting to fund the LIT, to give opportunities to those who want them. If all companies were to support the LIT with a little as £1,000 a year, we would have an annual fund of £0.5 million to pay for and expand programmes.


We’re reducing carbon emissions

We are seeing the switch from inefficient to efficient technologies at an increasing pace.  The next big saving will be in service delivery through the change to energy-efficient light sources combined with sensors and communications.

The challenge to customers is describing to the lighting industry what products and services it needs for the next 20 years. The challenge to the lighting industry is to work with communications, sensors and data mining to provide lighting as a service.


We’re partnering with government and agencies

You can’t help but notice the awareness stream running through all the lighting associations supporting companies and individuals. That’s not by chance; we are growing and developing partnerships right across central and local government. The Lighting Liaison Group (all UK lighting trade associations), has expanded to include BIS and the Local Government Association, already with an offer to include Department for Communities and Local Government, Department for Transport and Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc).


We’re growing a sustainable sector

It is often said that the public sector can lead the way in stimulating an innovative industrial sector. We have recognised that it’s a difficult job for local authorities to make a choice when investiing in public realm lighting. To this end, we have joined forces with the Institute of Engineering and Technology, Decc, BIS and industry to develop a sound technical case. It is supported by Decc and will help local authorities make the right choices while ensuring they have a good case to access funds from Salix, Department for Transport and Green Investment Bank funding.

Together with industry, BIS and the LIA have prepared the paper UK lighting, innovation for our future. It explains to public body funders what the industry will need over the next three to five years, and was timed to coincide with both EPSRC and Innovate UK funding rounds.

The industry is engaged with Transport for London’s £100 million-plus fund for energy-efficient lighting over the next five years, and the LIA has again won ATO status and will be providing trade missions for UK lighting companies on behalf of UKTI.