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UK Universities Open £23m IoT Research Hub

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

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Government, universities and industry band together for Internet of Things hub, to drive innovation and research

The government, nine British universities and 47 industry and public sector organisations are to open a new research hub to drive British research into the Internet of Things (IoT). ecosystem.

Known as the Petras Consortium, the project will be led by University College London (UCL) and includes Imperial College London, University of Oxford, University of Warwick, Lancaster University, University of Southampton, University of Surrey, University of Edinburgh and Cardiff University.

The group will also draw on “substantial support and leverage from over 47 partners from industry and the public sector.”

IoT Research

In essence, the consortium will focus on five key IoT themes: privacy and trust (led by Warwick, Oxford); safety and security (led by Imperial, Lancaster); harnessing economic value (led by Imperial, Oxford); standards, governance and policy (led by UCL); and finally adoption and acceptability (led by Warwick, Lancaster).

IoTThe research hub has been backed by a £9.8 million grant from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). Partner contributions will add to the funding kitty, for a total of approximately £23 million.

The government was keen to stress the project is part of IoTUK scheme announced back in September 2015. This forms part of the Government’s £40m investment in the IoT as it looks to push the UK as one of the global leaders in adopting connected technology.

“UK universities are renowned for their creativity, and pioneering research and development,” said Ed Vaizey, Digital Economy Minister. “We want the UK to be a world leader in the adoption of Internet of Things technologies, and I know that bringing these universities together with partners from the UK’s thriving tech industry will be instrumental in making this a reality.”

“In the not too distant future almost all of our daily lives will be connected, in one way or another, to the digital world,” explained Professor Philip Nelson, EPSRC’s chief executive. “Physical objects and devices will be able to interact with each other, ourselves, and the wider virtual world. But, before this can happen, there must be trust and confidence in how the Internet of Things works, its security and its resilience.

Bright Future

The Internet of Things has been hailed by some as a panacea for all industries and sectors, but not all businesses are convinced it seems.

A study by Neustar and analyst firm Quocirca in December revealed that businesses are still concerned about a number aspects of the IoT, namely security and data overload.

That study found that the explosion in data generated by the increasing number of connected ‘things’ and the effect this will have on existing network capacity is the top concern, along with issues surrounding security and the cost of upgrading existing networks.

In 2014 a report from analyst firm IDC predicted that 90 percent of all IT networks will have an IoT-based security breach within the next two years, although many will be considered “inconveniences” as they target non-crucial parts of the business.

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