UK govt places a stg£500k bet on the ‘Internet of Things’

12 Jan 2012

Ten UK companies are to receive up to £50,000 each to undertake preparatory studies to better understand how to move towards an application and services marketplace in the ‘Internet of Things’.

This is the first investment in a government-backed initiative, managed by the Technology Strategy Board, aimed at encouraging and accelerating the formation of an Internet of Things ecosystem of applications and services. 

Following the completion of the preparatory studies, the Technology Strategy Board will invest up to stg£4m later in 2012 in a funding competition that will lead to the development of a convergence demonstrator, which will show the benefits to be gained by merging applications and services together through an Internet of Things.

The Internet of Things describes the trend for environments, buildings, vehicles, clothing, portable devices and other objects to have more and more information associated with them and/or the ability to sense, communicate, network and produce new information.

A widespread Internet of Things could transform how we live in our cities, how we travel, how we manage our lives sustainably, how we age and how services and entertainment accompany us and adapt as our surroundings change.

Number of connected objects to reach 50bn by 2020

“The Internet of Things has the potential to stimulate large-scale investment, create jobs and bring substantial economic growth,” said David Bott, director of Innovation Programmes at the Technology Strategy Board.

“The number of connected objects is estimated to reach 50bn by 2020, and the potential added value of services using the Internet of Things is likely to be in the range of hundreds of billions of pounds a year, with new business models, applications and services across different sectors of the economy.”

The 10 companies leading the preparatory studies are: AIMES Grid Services, UK Telecommunications plc, Cambridge Wireless Ltd, Focus Innovation Ltd, Globosense Ltd, Housing 21, In Touch Ltd, InteliTap Ltd, Swirrl IT Ltd and WattBox Ltd.

The Technology Strategy Board has also established a Special Interest Group of relevant companies and organisations to build awareness of the opportunities provided by the Internet of Things, help shape the Technology Strategy Board’s programme and promote wider participation. 

The Special Interest Group is carrying out a research and development road-mapping project, in collaboration with the research councils. The results of the project are likely to be released in a few months’ time.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years