E-Minister Patricia Hewitt today announced a three-part £70 million Government investment in electronic technologies aimed to keep the UK at the forefront of the high-tech revolution.
Proposals include £20 million for pioneering work for ‘intelligent products'(next-wave technologies); £30 million for transforming business practices usingtechnology and £20 million for a national computing grid for UK scientists.
‘The UK is already one of the world leaders in mobile Internet and digital TV,’ said Ms Hewitt. ‘Now we are investing an additional £70 million to ensure that UK business and scientists can be in the lead for the next generation of electronic networks.’
According to a statement the £20 million for ‘intelligent products’ will fund a centre where Britain’s top researchers, manufacturers and marketing gurus will come together. Their work will ensure that the UK takes a lead role in moving computer and communications technology from the desktop to the kitchen worktop.
Bids will be invited from universities across the UK to host the interdisciplinary centre. Industry is expected to match the Government’s £20 million funding.
The UK government envisages that ‘Next Wave’ technologies will bring computer power into everyday gadgets. For example washing machines which read intelligent clothes label before selecting a washing programme, ‘Internet fridges which order groceries direct from the supermarket, and home diagnosticdevices that help patients communicate with GP’s remotely.
The government estimates that the market for these thinking machines could be worth up to $1 trillion per year by 2005.
An extra £30 million over the next three years has been earmarked for the expansion of UK Online for Business. Advice from a network of advisers across the country will help all businesses to move beyond having a web site or trading online, to transforming their interactions with suppliers, customers and other partners through the effective use of information and communications technology (ICT).
The programme will also provide £20 million for a new collaboration between universities, business and government to develop a high-speed national grid of super-computing power, that will give UK scientists, access to ICT on a scale previously only available to the Pentagon.