Digital communications network launched to stimulate innovation

Digital communications network launched to stimulate innovation

The Technology Strategy Board intends the new knowledge transfer network to bring together government agencies, universities and businesses

A new knowledge transfer network (KTN) has been launched by public body the Technology Strategy Board (TSB) that will focus on stimulating research into digital communications and create opportunities for vendors in the industry.

Following the launch of the KTN last week at a London conference, Richard Nicol, the network’s interim chairman, said the intention of the network is to “accelerate innovation across industry”, and bring “advantages in competitiveness to the UK”.

The new network will assist companies in making contracts and will act as a catalyst or “networking organisation” in bringing together government agencies, universities, research agencies and businesses, Nicol added.

Nicol expressed hopes that 90 per cent of the digital industry will be involved in the network through newsletters, web sites and events. Events will be held two or three times a month with partners and existing networks in the UK, Nicol said. The challenge is to bring on board the venture capitalist industry, but it can only be involved if it is present, Nicol added.

The network has £3m at its disposable to spend over the next three years, Nicol said. The network will run workshops to discuss challenges and opportunities in the technology industry, and how technology can help solve UK problems, such as the increasing elderly population, said Nicol.

The new KTN will complement the “innovation board” also just launched by the TSB, which has a budget of £6.5m to spend on a research programme looking into how technologies, such as Wi-Fi, can be used to help elderly people stay in their own homes and out of care for longer, while still being monitored.

David Bott, TSB director of innovation platforms, said the push comes from research indicating that by 2050 twice as many nurses will be needed to cope with the elderly population.

The TSB was set up by the Department of Trade and Industry in 2004 to increase innovation and enable its rapid deployment to create wealth. The board became established as an executive Non-Departmental Public Body with effect from 1 July 2007. Other KTN’s run by the board focus on areas including chemistry innovation, grid computing now and cyber security.

The announcement comes after the Sainsbury Review recommended the TSB co-ordinates publicly funded technology and innovation activities, and news that the board will receive more that £1bn over the next three years to support its research.