Transcript for ICT Pioneers

Martin Sadler - Lab Director, HP Labs [MSadler]

Over the next 20 years we're going to see some amazing transformations, disruptive transformations with technology. So everything we've seen in the past 20 years - the personal computer, online shopping, social networking - will be nothing compared to the revolution that's ahead of us.

Mike Short - President IET, The Institution of Engineering and Technology [MShort]

ICT research is enabling healthcare to go into a different world. Supporting new transport and ticketing systems and in particular helping us to think about smart energy, smart grids, smarter homes for the future.

Alan Bundy - Vice President BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT [AB]

ICT influences all disciplines and ones that we wouldn't have anticipated that it would influence. Things like economics, music, physics, biology or geology.


In telecommunications we couldn't work without ICT and some of the capabilities that have developed over the last 30 years. Now we see over 5.5 billion customers using mobiles globally.

Dave Delpy - Chief Executive, EPSRC [DD]

If you look at the output of the UK economy people talk about service industries and about manufacturing. Every single element of that requires the use of information and communication technologies, ICT, and so the sort of career that one can have in ICT spans every aspect of society and of our industry and our manufacturing future.


Computational thinking is influencing all areas of life, intellectual life and practical life. One of philosophies long outstanding problems has been the mind body problem -how it is that the mind can influence the brain and the brain the mind. Computational ideas are providing a metaphor for this, that the mind corresponds to software and the brain to the hardware that it runs on. Take something like biology, what is DNA? Well it's a kind of computer programme, it has instructions which when run produce proteins.


In the future, EPSRC is moving from being a passive funder of research to being a sponsor of research. It means that we want the internationally excellent research that we fund to tackle really important societal problems and things that are essential to the health of the UK research base, manufacturing base and society. Of course that does require pulling together basic science, engineering, and end users and that's what ICT does.


One of the things we have found over the last few years is that multidisciplinary teams work so much better at being on top of what is possible, understanding what you can do with it and actually just innovating. A lot of the interesting innovations are when you put people together from very different backgrounds. So we are facing an information explosion and one of the things that will help people in how they consume all this vast amount of information is next generation display technology. This stuff is going to be plastic, we are going to wallpaper our homes with it. To generate the technology, to generate the kind of screens at a price point that people can afford, requires a lot of material science, a lot of physics, and a lot of chemistry. How we get that vast amount of information onto those screens in the right kind of way requires skills from computer science. How individuals are actually going to interact with these screens through gestures, by pointing, by doing the kind of movements that people are familiar with from their smart phones requires people that are actually from psychology backgrounds. So we have this complete spread from people with very low level fundamental science backgrounds right the way up through to the social sciences and we need to bring all that together to really harness what next generation technology is going to be able to do for us.

Tony King-Smith - Imagination Technologies Ltd [TKS]

Imagination Technologies does all sorts of technology. We are best known probably for our graphics acceleration technology that is found in hundreds of millions of mobile phones and tablets these days. Research is the life blood of our company. It is advanced technology and our ability to turn the most advanced concepts into commercial technology that can be deployed in meeting the high volume that makes Imagination the successful company it is today. We know what we are looking for. Our business is looking at least five to ten years ahead of the technology you are seeing in products today and our development plans reflect that. A lot of the technology we have in active development now is unlikely to reach production for the next three to five years at least, so therefore we have very long-term horizons. That also means as we are studying that technology, we are studying the world press, the academic press, the commercial press and looking for trends which are going to stimulate areas where we see there are fundamental gaps in technology and those are the ones we strive for.


One of the areas that I was researching in the early 90's was why some of the SMS activities were not taking off simple texting and we realised that texting within a network was not sufficient, so we thought we would do some experimentation and start to look at texting across networks. So from what was O2, in those days, across to Vodafone and vice versa, that experimental research led to a texting boom the likes of which we had never seen before. So by 1999 there was something like one billion text messages sent in the UK and by 2009 it went over 100 billion.

Ian Phillips - Principal Staff Engineer, ARM Ltd [IP]

Inside these little boxes are actually a hierarchy of expertise, a hierarchy of design, a hierarchy of technology, a hierarchy of manufacturing, so practically none of them today are designed and manufactured in a single place. So we can't ever own the entire, what's known as, life cycle for these products in the UK. But what we can only hope for is to maintain a proportion of the skills, the technology, the abilities that are going to occur inside these devices in the future. We have to take the expertise that we have got, the special expertise that we have, and we have to develop it as far as possible and then we have to make it available to the international market. But don't forget that the UK companies are also looking across this international market for their solutions. If we don't have the quality of research and we don't have the quality of researchers in this ICT domain we will fall back as a nation and this will not be a good thing to do.


We have a tremendous history of innovation. What we are now showing is that Intellectual property companies now fit very well into where industry is heading over the next few decades and as such those companies rely on advanced research and commercialisation. I think it has never been a more exciting time for the UK, but we need that body of researchers and we need them in this county so that they are close to the companies that can exploit them.


We need excellent ICT researchers, which we have, but we also need ones who can communicate exactly what it is that ICT is contributing.


Without a good understanding of the economic and the social backgrounds, you can't design products that are going to be successful.


ICT to me is the most exciting career anybody could have because it touches every avenue in society. It touches anything you may wish to do whether it's through education and research, whether it's through implementation, whether it's through delivering new services to anybody in society. It's also a global career. It's not just something which is unique to the UK, but growing those skills in the UK would help both within the UK and internationally.


HP Labs is in the UK because this is a great place to work with universities. We have a wonderful opportunity here in industry and academia coming together to solve some of these big challenges and the group of individuals that are at the focal point of that are our PhD students. That's the engine room for growth for this country for the next ten to 20 years and that's the group we need to continue to invest in.