Business Technology

Government wants UK firms and cities to be inventive with £10m Internet of Things fund

4 min read

15 July 2015

Former deputy editor

A £10m Internet of Things (IoT) competition has been launched by the British government, which plans to use the fund as a hook for UK businesses and cities to “revolutionise” the way the tech can be of benefit to the public.

Image: Shutterstock

The challenge comes after George Osborne committed £40m to invest in IoT during the spring budget in March – a small portion of a larger £740m investment to create “cities of the future”.

At the time, the chancellor said: “We’ll invest in what is known as the Internet of Things. This is the next stage of the information revolution, connecting up everything from urban transport to medical devices to household appliances.”

The £10m fund is being overseen by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and Innovate UK, which are encouraging cities and business nationwide to consider how IoT can be of benefit to citizens. Cambridge became a connected city earlier in the year with the support of Virgin Media and the local council, which may make it a location of interest.

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Those feeling inventive are asked to product a research and development project that details how the tech can be applied for things such as environmental improvements, supporting the economy, and enhancements to make transport, healthcare and energy more efficient.

In order to be eligible the effort must be collaborative, involving at lest one local authority or local enterprise partnership and several companies.

The project must also detail:

  • A specific benefits for citizens, the city region and the environment.
  • Economic benefits for businesses and local authorities, both during and after the initial trial.
  • Appropriate security and privacy features.
  • Entries must be able to work across a variety of sectors, for example social care, transport and housing.

Existing IoT services highlighted by the government include using location-based services to speed up journeys – something that may have been of use during the London tube strike on 9 July.

“The Internet of Things is rapidly becoming part of our everyday lives. The UK technology sector is renowned for its creativity and pioneering research and development,” said digital economy minister Ed Vaizey.

“This competition will be instrumental in discovering new connections between city services and their users, and identifying many more advantages that the Internet of Things could offer.

“IoT is a major area of growth and will have a transformative effect on society – a recent report by Arup estimates that the global value of the IoT sector will exceed £255bn a year by 2020. Cities can use IoT to improve services for their citizens, increase quality of life and make better-informed decisions more quickly. The success of cities will depend on them working in new ways with new partners.”

Innovate UK’s Nick Appleyard, meanwhile, added the tech “is on the brink of connecting communities and commerce across the UK”. Deadline for applications is 30 September 2015.

Other government funding this summer has seen business minister Anna Soubry open a £10m fund for aviation while business secretary Sajid Javid visited Glastonbury to discover British music talent to then back rising acts.

Image: Shutterstock