We analyze the emergence and spatial evolution of the German laser systems industry. Regional knowledge in the related field of laser sources, as well as the presence of universities with physics or engineering departments, is conducive to the emergence of laser systems suppliers. The regional presence of source producers is also positively related to entry into laser systems. One important mechanism behind regional entry is the diversification of upstream laser source producers into the downstream systems market. Entry into the materials processing submarket appears to be unrelated to academic knowledge in the region, but the presence of laser source producers and the regional stock of laser knowledge are still highly predictive in this submarket.