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Technology Strategy Board to promote 'Internet of Things' to UK business

16 May 2011

The Technology Strategy Board has launched a £5m initiative aimed at accelerating the formation of the 'Internet of Things' ecosystem of applications and services and is inviting British businesses and other stakeholders to help shape the programme. Beginning with a series of workshops and the launch of a Special Interest Group in the Summer, the objective of the initiative is to help the UK gain an early advantage in Internet of Things adoption, applications and services development.

The Internet of Things (or IoT) describes the revolution already under way that is seeing a growing number of internet-enabled devices that can network and communicate with each other and with other web-enabled gadgets. Things (such as objects, environments, vehicles and clothing) will have more and more information associated with them and may have the ability to sense, communicate, network and produce new information, becoming an integral part of the Internet.  A widespread Internet of Things has the potential to transform how we live in our cities, how we move, how we develop sustainably, how we age, and more.

Explaining why the Internet of Things will be of such importance, Nick Appleyard, Head of Digital at the Technology Strategy Board, says: “The Internet of Things is one of the next major developments of the Internet and has the potential to unleash large scale investment, create jobs and bring substantial economic growth to many sectors of the economy.  In some ways more and more information about ’things’ within buildings, transport systems, cars or cities is produced.  But if these were both widespread and able to share information with each other and with us at large scale a world of opportunities would open up, leading to products with additional capabilities, more efficient processes and innovative business models.”

Some research estimates that added value services using the Internet of Things could reach £200 billion2 a year, with new business models, applications and services across different sectors of the economy.  Such demand could also stimulate innovation and growth in areas such as components, devices, wireless connectivity and decision support tools.
The focus of the initiative will be around understanding the challenges to and opportunities of the nascent ecosystem of application and services of the Internet of Things, and help industry drive it forward.

Outlining the Technology Strategy Board’s engagement in this area Maurizio Pilu, Lead Technologist – Digital says: “Our consultation with industrial and academic stakeholders shows that the full economic, societal, growth and job-creation potential of the Internet of Things has yet to be realised around the world due to system-wide issues such as the highly fragmented nature of the market and barriers to the large scale development of applications and services.  So we plan to bring businesses and public stakeholders together, to drive forward the development of new applications, services and business models based on the Internet of Things.”

The Technology Strategy Board will establish a Special Interest Group of relevant companies and organisations which will dive deep into the UK’s Internet of Things landscape across multiple sectors, help shape the programme and promote wider participation.  This will be followed by funding competitions which will see the Board investing in short-term feasibility studies, research and development projects and pilots.

The Special Interest Group will start operating in the summer.  Companies and other organisations interested in taking part can join here.  The first funding competition will be launched in the autumn.

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