The UK has many of the components of a world-class Electronic and Electrical Systems ecosystem, but there is scope to improve its integration.
Aligning public investments and procurement to national needs – the “markets of tomorrow” – can provide a powerful boost to the UK’s innovation capability. There is a real opportunity for greater collaboration between the ‘Horizontal’ technology provision nature of Electronic and Electrical Systems business and the ‘Vertical’ market-facing businesses; in particular to develop more and deeper UK supply chains.
Markets of Tomorrow of National Interest
There are many new market opportunities that have opportunity for UK based business with Electronic and Electrical Systems expertise which are aligned to our own needs. Examples include:
There is societal pressure towards an integrated transport infrastructure which will require wider development and deployment of Electronic and Electrical Systems. There will be an ever-increasing reliance on autonomous systems that outperform humans in terms of speed, control and safety. Greater fuel efficiency will be required from vehicles and cleaner alternatives to travel will need to be developed to go beyond where we are today.
Health and Well-being
Demographic changes leading to greater demands on healthcare provision is a major challenge facing successive governments both here and abroad. Electronic and Electrical Systems already play a significant and growing role in diagnostics in healthcare, but will significantly increase its role in prosthetics to enhance vision and hearing (such as the cochlear implant), but also improved actuation and sensing for replacement limbs. This will extend into broader applications: from screening and early diagnosis, through treatment, into monitoring and aftercare. Innovation in all of these areas can improve patient care outcomes while reducing healthcare costs. The UK already has the largest medical market in Europe worth £6 billion, which includes the electro-medical market estimated at £400 million in 2012, according to Espicom.
Secure, Clean and Efficient Energy
As the drive to use renewable sources of energy continues, Electronic and Electrical Systems will play an increasingly important role in the connectivity of remote generation and the supporting, condition monitoring and communication systems. The Smart Grid will be a part of this, helping to address the security of supply, sustainability and affordability challenges of our energy future.
The Internet of Things
The ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) is becoming a reality. Intelligence and connectivity is spreading rapidly into more and more of the systems in our lives. This will enable more sophisticated services for the user, but also better data gathering for the hosts. New products and services will develop as a result of capability enabled through the connecting of millions of previously discrete and disconnected systems together into intelligent platforms.
The UK is well positioned to develop this opportunity and be amongst the global leaders in many aspects as the opportunity develops. Creating businesses of scale remains a key challenge for UK companies as many struggle to reach their full potential or are simply acquired along the way.
“The UK has many highly successful Electronic Systems businesses but we need ‘scale’ to overcome the rising costs of design and manufacture if we are to be profitable. That means creating major global Electronic Systems brands here in the UK to extract more value out of UK innovation. More can be done to help UK businesses develop strong roots locally to enhance their international ambitions.” Sir Hossein Yassaie, Imagination Technologies