UK National Security and Investment Bill: What it means to UK photonics

On 11th November, the UK Government published its long-awaited National Security and Investment Bill setting out the Government’s proposals. We want to make you aware of the changes and while we can’t offer legal advice, we strongly recommend you take time to understand what that will mean to you and your organisation. 

The Bill is being debated in parliament for a second reading today and has broad cross-party support. 

There are significant details which are particularly relevant to the UK photonics sector, most notably with the introduction of a mandatory requirement to notify government of transactions in sensitive sectors with an effective date of 12 November 2020.  

The condition will apply to certain types of transaction in 17 of the most sensitive sectors of the economy. The four most relevant to us, to you and to the wider photonics community are Advanced Materials, Quantum Technologies, Data Infrastructure and Communications research, but by no means confined to these areas. 

If you’d like to input into the consultation process, you should do so well in advance of the deadline on 6th Jan 2021. It’s in everyone’s interest to ensure sector definitions are accurate so we encourage you to review and feedback on the current draft definition of sectors subject to mandatory notification to improve their accuracy. 

Professor Sir David Payne, Hub Director says, “Being included at this level highlights the fundamental enabling nature of photonics to the UK economy and its security.” 

“We don’t expect many items to be called for further investigation and are requesting that the notification process is as simple as possible and that the Investment Security Unit in BEIS be sufficiently resourced to provide minimum burden and a high-speed response to industry.” 

Relevant sub-sectors to highlight within the Advanced Materials sector include: 

  • Metamaterials 
  • Semiconductors 
  • Photonic and optoelectronic materials 
  • Graphene and other two-dimensional (2D) materials 
  • Nanotechnology 
  • Critical materials, niche materials and materials related products 

Relevant areas to highlight within the Communications sector include: 

  • Telecommunications including the entire supply chain which is defined as including ‘equipment repair and maintenance services in respect of data infrastructure’. 
  • Internet infrastructure equipment 

We are of course, in the process of reviewing how we will need to refine our own processes and ways of working to ensure compliance with the Bill. 

The Future Photonics Hub 

A future manufacturing research hub