The Photonic Industry in Figures

These are ~200 players from industry and research, versatile, excellently networked and internationally renowned. OptoNet has been surveying the industry – with scientific support from Friedrich Schiller University Jena – every two years since 2001.

For the 13th edition of the report, the players in the Thuringian photonics industry once again answered detailed questions about their business situation, turnover, employment and technology trends.

This year’s top topic: the development of skilled workers in the high-tech industry.

Topic overview


At a glance

Companies ›186
Sales 2022 ›EUR 3.8 billion
Share of sales for research & development ›13%
Export share of sales ›72%
Total employees (industry & research) ›18.300
Employees in the industry ›15.850
Employees in research ›2.450
Average company size ›85 employees
Trainees in vocational training ›500
Apprenticeship rate ›3,2 %



Regional distribution of companies in Thuringia
Regional distribution of companies in Thuringia

Jena is the center of the industry.

113 companies with almost 10,000 employees are based in the Saale city and the neighboring Saale-Holzland district and generate around 61% of the industry’s sales.

Most companies are small and medium-sized.

Although the industry has been growing for many years, the small and medium-sized structure remains intact. The average company size is 85 employees.

Young companies are maturing and outgrowing the category of micro-enterprises, while start-ups are moving up and providing a breath of fresh innovative air.

The backbone, however, continues to be the 50 or so companies in the ’50 to 249 employees’ category, which employ around 5,200 workers.

Only a few companies employ more than 250 people. The two largest employers are ZEISS and JENOPTIK with a total of more than 4,000 employees.

Distribution of companies according to company size
Distribution of companies according to company size