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MPLS is leading Oxford University’s input into the PITCH-In project, which is being led by the University of Sheffield in partnership with the universities of Oxford, Cambridge and Newcastle, and industrial and health sector partners. The aim is to drive forward collaboration concerned with the Internet of Things.

The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to the interconnection of computing capability in everyday objects at work and home. The IoT supports a host of so-called ‘smart’ applications ranging from industrial process control, such as remotely monitoring when a factory machine needs maintenance, through to enhanced support for patients with dementia, such as reminding someone to take their medication. It is estimated that we will have 50 billion connected elements online within the next decade. Effective implementation of IoT is critical to industrial, societal and economic development in the UK.

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

The Pitch-In project will benefit the UK as a whole via wide-scale collaboration between leading academic institutions coupled with an extensive network of public and private sector collaborators. The project will investigate the barriers to successful IoT take-up, trial solutions, and capture and share good practice learning outcomes. The collaborative project will also disseminate guidance regionally, nationally and globally and will support the UK Government’s Industrial Strategy by significantly enhancing the commercialisation and wider exploitation prospects of UK IoT research and technology.

Prof Malcolm McCulloch from the Department of Engineering Science and PITCH-In’s energy lead said: ‘The IoT has a huge role to play in the transformation towards a low-carbon energy system, where generation will be renewable-based, intermittent and decentralised. The future control of supply and demand will open up new value streams and business opportunities and influenced by future regulation: identification of new markets is a truly multi-disciplinary problem and to be successful needs to put customer value at the forefront. PITCH-In is a very exciting project that will undertake multi-disciplinary work to identify new market opportunities and will complement large multi-disciplinary projects underway at Oxford, including the Oxford Martin School-funded Integrating large-scale Renewable Energy.’

Dr Andy Gilchrist from Oxford University Industrial Partnerships team and Oxford’s Project Manager said: ‘PITCH-In is a very exciting project that will help industrial IoT markets develop quickly: it will bring a customer-focus to commercialising academic-driven knowledge and so help the UK become recognised as a global leader. I look forward to working with the Consortium, industry and stakeholders to develop robust knowledge transfer mechanisms. Key to PITCH-In is the combination of technical IoT research across the Consortium with multi-disciplinary themes, including cyber-security and many social sciences, including data ownership, regulations, trust and value-creation.’

The Connecting Capability Fund supports universities in working together and with businesses and other partners to commercialise research and share good practice and capacity. The Fund is highlighted in the Government’s Industrial Strategy and will help achieve its aims of enhancing UK industrial competitiveness and productivity. It builds on established processes and the success of Research England’s HEIF programme.

Acknowledgements: University of Sheffield PITCH-In press release

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