Digital Catapult Boss Urges UK Commitment In IoT Race

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

The UK could lose out if it slips in the global race to develop the Internet of Things

Experts are predicting that the Internet of Things (IoT) is set to grow rapidly, but the UK needs to up its game when it comes to IoT testing and developing, if it hopes to maintain its IoT position globally.

That at least is the warning from Neil Crockett, the chief executive of the Digital Catapult.

Global Race

Digital Catapult is a government-backed scheme that in early November opened a centre in Kings Cross, London, as well as three more centres in Bradford, Brighton and Sunderland.

The idea behind it is to provide tech startups with the resources and contacts necessary to foster and commercialise their ideas.

Arqiva internet of thingsSpeaking at an event this week, Crockett reportedly warned that the UK could potentially lose out to its global rivals, unless it committed to develop more IoT test beds.

He reportedly cited the fact that countries such as China, Korea and Singapore have already created their own IoT test beds, where IoT ideas and products can be developed, researched and eventually commercialised. Crockett wants the UK to do the same, or it risks losing out.

The main focus of Digital Catapult’s London centre is to solve a number of challenges including the use of personal data, sharing data inside organisations, the re-use of creative content and the Internet of Things.

The Brighton catapult meanwhile will focus on data and the IoT, while the Bradford centre will turn its attention to healthcare and the Sunderland facility, will look at public services.

Growth Area

IoT is an area that many experts expect to growth rapidly, as more of the world gets connected to everything else.

Gartner recently predicted that the number of connected ‘things’ across the world has nearly reached parity with the global population, and will hit 25 billion by 2020. It says that overall, 4.9 billion connected things will be in use in 2015, up 30 percent from 2014.

One of the most obvious IoT examples are smart meters, which are due to be installed as standard across Britain by 2020, following a government drive to encourage greater energy efficiency by replacing existing gas and electricity meters.

British Gas is looking to roll out its smart meters earlier than 2020 in order to help benefit customers, and has already installed more than a million devices in homes and business premises free of charge.

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