Cambridge University joins project to help remove IoT barriers

Cambridge University joins project to help remove IoT barriers

The Pitch-In project aims to trial IoT solutions and share best practices.

The University of Cambridge has joined a project that will investigate the barriers to successful IoT take-up.

The Pitch-In Project (Promoting the Internet of Things via Collaborations between HEIs & Industry) will be led by the University of Sheffield in collaboration with the Universities of Cambridge, Oxford, and Newcastle.

The £4.9 million project is one of 14 financed under Research England’s Connecting Capability Fund (CCF).

Pitch-In Project teams will trial solutions, and capture and share best-practice learnings and outcomes. The aim is to focus on four priority sectors that are early adopters of IoT: health and wellbeing, digital manufacturing, energy systems, and smart cities.

The project will involve Cambridge’s Institute for Manufacturing (IfM), which is part of the University’s Department of Engineering. The IfM has been awarded £1 million of the total funding to lead the manufacturing theme, while also supporting the smart cities element of the project.

Dr Alexandra Brintrup will lead the manufacturing theme as Cambridge’s principal investigator for the Pitch-In Project. She said the project would be a great opportunity to “increase the technology readiness levels for some of the state-of-the-art research that the University of Cambridge conducts in Industrial IoT.

“The project will provide funding for feasibility studies and demonstrators, as well as creating pathways to remove industrial knowledge transfer barriers in this field through the development of best practice guidelines.

“Pitch-In greatly strengthens the IfM’s digital manufacturing research programme, and supports engagement with the Cambridge cluster of high-technology companies,” she added.

UK manufacturing competitiveness

Professor Tim Minshall, head of IfM, said the adoption of digital technologies will be key to the ongoing competitiveness of UK manufacturing firms of all sizes. “We are really excited by the opportunity this project offers to accelerate research and its application in this critical technology area,” he said.

The project supports the government’s new Industrial Strategy by significantly enhancing the commercialisation prospects of UK IoT research and technology.

David Sweeney, executive chair of Research England, said that within the Industrial Strategy, the government asked the project to improve the capability of the country to turn ideas into commercial products and services.

“Universities have stepped forward in these projects to show that they can do world-class commercialisation, alongside world-class science,” he said. “I believe these projects present important innovations that should inform our strategic approach to commercialisation in UK research and innovation for the future.”

Internet of Business says

Partnership is what the Internet of Things is all about, and this is one of several projects within the UK where universities, cities, industry, and research centres have combined to create new hotspots of expertise, innovation, and commercial opportunity: great news for the country and for the government’s new Industrial Strategy.

But is the UK doing enough when faced with the investment and research might of China, for example, where billions of dollars are being poured centrally into IoT, robotics, AI, and autonomous vehicle programmes? The same principle applies to Japan, the US, and many of the UK’s Western allies, where the figures reveal that the UK is falling behind in terms of central investment.

For example, the UK is only 22nd in the world automation and robotics league. And while the UK is pouring up to £300 million into robotics and autonomous systems by 2020, Japan is investing £161 billion over the same timescale.