University of Sheffield Wins Bid to Optimize IoT Collaboration

The University of Sheffield has won a bid which will finance a new project, in partnership with the universities of Oxford, Cambridge, and Newcastle, to drive forward collaboration in favor of the Internet of Things (IoT).

Image credit: The University of Sheffield

IoT can be defined as an interconnection of computing capability in daily objects and in the fabric of man’s infrastructures, such as smart controlled via an Amazon Alexa is an example system that forms part of the IoT. Some estimate that there will have 50 billion connected elements online within the next ten years.  The IoT supports a horde of so-called ‘smart’ applications ranging from industrial process control through improved management of dementia. It is vital to societal, industrial, and economic development in the UK.

Sheffield, the lead university of the fruitful bid has been awarded £4.9 million by Research England’s Connecting Capability fund (CCF) to finance the Promoting the Internet of Things via Collaborations between HEIs & Industry (Pitch-In) project.

The Pitch-In collaboration will be advantageous to the UK as a whole via wide-scale partnership between academic institutions and the private and public sectors. The project, led by the University of Sheffield, will examine the barriers to effective IoT take-up, trial solutions, and capture and share best practice learning outcomes. The collaborative project will also circulate guidance regionally, nationally, and globally and will support the UK Government’s Industrial Strategy by considerably optimizing the commercialization and wider exploitation prospects of UK IoT research and technology.

Professor John Clark from the Department of Computer Science at the University of Sheffield said: “The Internet of Things underpins much of the current drive to increased industrial automation and enhanced services and is set to have major impact on most of our lives.

“The Research England Pitch-In collaboration between Sheffield, Newcastle, Oxford and Cambridge will enhance the universities' ability to work with each other and with their regions to promote adoption of the Internet of Things, particularly in manufacturing, health, smart cities and energy.

“Our inclusion of management and social sciences experts also allows us to take a more holistic approach to facilitating IoT collaborations. With the help of some major industrial collaborators, such as the global engineering organisation Siemens, sector and technology specialists and networks such as the High Value Manufacturing and Digital Catapults and the Northern Health Sciences Alliance, regulatory authorities such as OFGEM, and increasing engagement of businesses of various sizes, we have the potential to increase the adoption and exploitation of IoT technology in our regions and beyond, and consequently bring significant societal benefits. We undoubtedly have a world-class collaboration and I’m delighted to be leading this initiative."

David Sweeney, Executive Chair of Research England said: “These projects demonstrate the commitment of universities to work together to strengthen the R&D and technological capabilities of the UK building upon our successful Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF). In the Industrial Strategy, the Government asked us to improve our ability to turn exciting 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.

I believe these projects present important innovations that should inform our strategic approach to commercialisation in UK Research and Innovation for the future.”

The Connecting Capability Fund supports universities in working together and with businesses and other partners to commercialize research and circulate good practice and capacity. The Fund is mentioned in the Government’s Industrial Strategy and will help realize its aims of improving UK industrial competitiveness and productivity. It builds on proven processes and the success of Research England’s HEIF program.

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