£6m boost for the communications technologies of tomorrow

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Future communication systems including 6G, faster internet access and cloud computing are all technologies which will be boosted by a £6m investment by EPSRC.

Three trailblazing platforms, each receiving funding of £2 million, have been put in place to develop innovations in communications systems, while connecting the wider academic, business and international communities.

Supporting jobs and industry

Jane Nicholson, Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council’s (EPSRC) Director for Research Base, said:

Digital communications infrastructure underpins the UK’s economy of today and tomorrow and these projects will help support the jobs and industry of the future.

Everybody relies on secure and swift networking and EPSRC is committed to backing the research which will advance these technologies.

Open network

Professor Harald Haas, from University of Strathclyde, Glasgow’s Electronic and Electrical Engineering department and Director of the LiFi Research and Centre said:

While connectivity remains a key driver for economic growth, the global race for technologies that underpin future 6G and the metaverse has begun.

I am thrilled to be working with more than 40 academic colleagues to jointly advance the diverse communication network technologies towards a fully inter-operable open network of networks.

I am also delighted to work with future industry partners to shape standardisation of communication networks and to translate broad research excellence into creating wider industrial impact.

Future generations

Professor Dominic O’Brien, Professor of Engineering Science, University of Oxford, said:

Reliable, high-speed communications is a key part of our national infrastructure. Our hub partners are looking forward to working with the other hubs, industry and government to help address the challenge of creating the future generations of these vital systems.

Further information

The funded projects are:

Platform one: network of networks

Led by Professor Harald Haas.

TITAN is a consortium of 17 universities which lead research in crucial segments of future communication networks and supported by four associate partners, namely:

  • the Digital Catapult
  • the Bristol Digital Futures Institute
  • the Compound Semiconductor Centre
  • the Fraunhofer Centre for Applied Photonics

The consortium aims to establish an open and productive platform for research collaboration and engagement across a large number of academic and industrial partners supported by a management structure which enables a flexible expansion of the platform if necessary.

Together, the partners will conduct unique and highly transformative research on the interfaces of classic communication network elements to achieve the seamless, open and fully integrated network of networks.

Platform two: wireless and wired systems and spectrum

Led by Professor O’Brien.

The hub brings together eight teams from the universities of:

  • Belfast
  • Bristol
  • Cambridge
  • Oxford
  • Southampton
  • Strathclyde
  • Imperial College London
  • UCL

They bring leading expertise in a wide range of wired and wireless technologies, in order to address the challenge of providing high-speed, low-latency access to internet services for future fixed and mobile users.

Our objectives are to advance technical capabilities, build a strong engagement between academia, industry and policy makers, and train researchers.

Communications systems research is a critical area that underpins the whole future digital society and forms part of a national ambition around world-class communications systems and technology. Sustained investment in future communications systems is a vital step in achieving this ambition.

Platform three: cloud and distributed computing

Led by Professor McCann.

The CHEDDAR: communications hub for empowering distributed cloud computing applications and research will drive research and networking across the UK academic community, to:

  • develop innovative collaboration mechanisms to engage pockets of excellence around the UK and build a cohesive research ecosystem that nurtures early career researchers and emerging blue horizon ideas
  • inform the design of new communication surfaces that cater to emerging computing capabilities (for example, neuromorphic, quantum, molecular), key infrastructures (for example, energy grids and transport), and emerging end-user applications (swarm autonomy, air-service on demand) to answer problems that we cannot solve today
  • create integrated design of hierarchical connected human-machine systems that promote secure learning and knowledge distribution, resilient capabilities, sustainable operations, trust between human and machine reasoning, and equality, diversity and inclusion aware accessibility. Co-develop regional case studies that reflect the diverse challenges faced by different industries and societies across the UK

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