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Scots pledge £10m for internet of things research push

23 Apr 2013
George Square Glasgow

The Scottish Funding Council has pledged £10m over the next five years to create a world-leading sensor centre that is set to bring major benefits to the UK economy.

The funding will be given to the University of Glasgow, which will lead the development of the Innovation Centre - Sensor and Imaging Systems, and bring together industry projects with university researchers to develop new technologies and bring internet of things projects to the market.

The centre's aim is to deliver 150 collaborative research projects over the course of its initial funding period. There are 11 other Scottish universities and 22 industry partners supporting the centre from the outset.

The internet of things is not a new concept but the idea is gaining traction as the likes of IBM, Intel and Cisco spearhead projects aimed at connecting billions of machines capable of communicating without human involvement.

"The internet of things is what we are keen to do with the centre, as research will focus on communication between sensors and there is a heck amount of data to be understood from all the inter-connected devices," said professor Steve Beaumont, University of Glasgow vice-principal of research and enterprise, when speaking to V3.

"The aim of the institute is to enhance innovation in Scottish industry as we want to be a UK centre of excellence in centre systems technology, so we want to bring all the relevant research we can find nationwide into collaborative projects with the industry."

Particular areas of research the centre will be focused on include water treatment and environment monitoring. Industry partners that will be working with the centre include IBM, BAE Systems, and Freescale, as well as energy giants, like BP, Scottish and Southern Energy and Scottish Water.

"For example, we're working with Freescale on a project with the Scottish canal system, where sensor technology will be used to monitor the integrity of canal banks. These sensors will tell us if the land near the embankment is becoming unstable," said Beaumont.

"We're developing new technology to monitor that sort of infrastructure. It will become a major area of innovation."

Beaumont said the new centre is likely to be officially launched this summer at the same time the university is expected to reveal more details about the sensor research projects it will be working on. In January, the UK Technology Strategy Board invested £500,000 in 10 companies to research how the ecosystem of apps and services necessary to create the internet of things can be created.

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Rosalie Marshall

Rosalie Marshall is the special projects editor and chief reporter at V3. Previously she was a reporter for IT Week and channel editor for online television site Rosalie covers government IT, business applications, IT skills, open source technology and social networks.

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