UK invests in IoT research

In early 2016, UK Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy, Ed Vaizey announced a new interdisciplinary Research Hub to drive forward research in the Internet of Things (IoT) space.

The PETRAS consortium will see nine leading UK university collaborating to investigate critical issues in privacy, ethics, trust, reliability, acceptability, and security. The Hub has received a £9.8 million grant from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), which will be be boosted by partner contributions to approximately £23 million in total.

Advancing research and understanding in IoT

The project is part of IoTUK, an integrated £40 million, three-year, government programme that seeks to advance the UK’s global leadership in IoT and increase the adoption of high quality IoT technologies and services throughout businesses and the public sector.

“UK universities are renowned for their creativity, and pioneering research and development. We want the UK to be a world leader in the adoption of IoT technologies, and I know that bringing these universities together with partners from the UK’s thriving tech industry will be instrumental in making this a reality,” Ed Vaizey, Digital Economy Minister, said.

Cyber security and risks

IoT describes a world where the physical objects around us – everything from our cars, pacemakers to ovens – are connected via digital networks.

Smart cities, high tech healthcare systems, improved infrastructure, and efficient manufacturing are set to alter our environments and the ways in which we interact with objects, people, and organisations around us. There is much potential for new investments, improved communication channels and heightened consumer experiences.

However, the IoT is not without risk.

The UK government Chief Scientific Advisor has warned that new opportunities can only by fully realised by engaging with the many challenges these new technologies bring. The IoT needs to find a good balance of potentially conflicting concerns, for example privacy and security, to gain full acceptability of consumers and citizens.

The cost of a serious cyber security breach is rising, and will continue to rise as we add connectivity to our lives.

Consultancy firm Price Waterhouse Cooper estimates the average cost of a single serious cyber security breach at between £1.46 million and £3.14 million for big business and £0.31 million for SMEs.

Trust and confidence needed

Professor Philip Nelson, EPSRC’s Chief Executive, said: “In the not too distant future almost all of our daily lives will be connected, in one way or another, to the digital world. Physical objects and devices will be able to interact with each other, ourselves, and the wider virtual world. But, before this can happen, there must be trust and confidence in how the Internet of Things works, its security and its resilience. By harnessing our world-leading research excellence this PETRAS Research Hub will accelerate IoT technology innovation and bring benefit to society and business.”

The Research Hub

The Hub is a consortium of nine leading universities led by UCL with Imperial College London, University of Oxford, University of Warwick, Lancaster University, University of Southampton, University of Surrey, University of Edinburgh and Cardiff University. The Hub will draw in substantial support and leverage from over 47 partners from industry and the public sector.


Edited from press release by Cecilia Rehn.