ICT Pioneers 2015

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Leading sponsors of the ICT Pioneers competition explain how ICT research and world-leading researchers are advancing innovative technologies.

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Professor Jeff Magee, Chair - BCS Academy [JM]

Computing is now an essential part of all of the challenges we face in this century.

Professor Bob Madahar, Chief Scientist, Information Management Department - DSTL [BM]

It doesn't matter which area you name, there is always an element of ICT.

Professor Philip Nelson, Chief Executive - EPSRC [PN]

Everything from understanding the way the universe has evolved, to predicting climate change to designing new drugs.


In healthcare, in food supply, mapping the human genome.


From fundamental photonics, right through to the microelectronics that makes it all fit together and you can see the way the world works now is just completely different to the way it was a hundred years ago and that's because of ICT.

ICT Pioneers is our annual competition that we use to showcase some of the best work produced by our PhD students in the field of information and communication technologies, which of course is a really important part of our mission.


The nature of the global economy means that the UK needs to educate and innovate its competitors in this global market. To do so, it needs a concerted effort and investment from the government, from industrial partners and from universities.


If you look at some of the sponsors that we have for the ICT Pioneers scheme, they are some good examples of where the UK does have that leading position.

Dino Destefano, Software Engineer - Facebook - [DD]

My name is Dino Destefano and I am a software engineer at Facebook. Facebook's mission is to make the world more open and connected. Pioneering work on ICT is very important for achieving our mission and so we thought that this competition is very important, both for Facebook, but also for the UK. We want to encourage students to think out of the box and help them to contribute in a positive way to the future of the world.

We work at an unprecedented scale so our engineers work all the time at the edge of knowledge, that's why we need fundamental research, that's why it is very important for us. For example, our team has used fundamental research and programming language to produce automatic tools that automatically discover errors in software, so this helps programmers to build more reliable and better code at Facebook. It is this kind of engineers that help us to build advanced products that help to connect people around the world.

Jonathan Legh-Smith, Head of Strategic Research - BT [JLS]

This is BT's main customer showcase, situated near Ipswich in the UK. Adastral Park is our main R&D facility. The kind of activities that go on here, it's from our most advanced research, all the way through to the development of the products and services that we deliver to our customers. The infrastructure that we are providing to the UK as a whole is a critical enabler of almost all of the services that you will use at home or within businesses. It all starts with the communications infrastructure, the ability to move that data and that information around the place.

Looking around just some of the examples we have here in our showcase, you can see how that pays off in terms of advanced things that impact all of us. For those who are looking for longer term, deeper challenges, how we make our networks more efficient, how we integrate it more tightly with the IT infrastructure is non-trivial. It will have a huge pay off for BT, for related companies and for the UK as a whole. But there are plenty of long-term, hard challenges to be addressed and plenty also short-term opportunities.

Howard Benn, Head of Standards and Industrial Affairs - Samsung UK [HB]

For many, many years we've basically made products based on innovation. Recently we've just been recruiting for our 5G research team and we're doing a lot of work into the new technologies that 5G is going to develop. We spent a lot of time improving spectrum efficiency, so we're actually pointing a beam at the user directly and that improves capacity, it improves range. In the pictures when you've seen the race car going around the track, what you're actually seeing is our beam forming technology adaptively moving the space station beam to this moving vehicle.

We can get seven and a half gigabits per second, which is just a staggering speed, which I think a lot of people in the industry were quite doubtful was possible. We could base ourselves in Germany or in France or many other places, but at the moment we've decided to stay in the UK primarily because of the quality of the PhD students coming out of the UK universities.

James Salter, Research Manager - Hewlett Packard Labs [JS]

Hewlett Packard Labs is the company's central research organisation so we're quite forward looking - we look for new technologies, break through research and so it's really important for us to get the cream of the crop, the best talent possible.

Herry, Research Engineer - Hewlett Packard Labs (and 2014 ICT Pioneers Finalist) [H]

The sort of things that we are doing here is we are managing large-scale infrastructure, millions of nodes, a database of data. We are also developing a system for securing our data centre, protecting it from hackers and also from malwares.

Marco Lotz, Research Engineer - Hewlett Packard Labs [ML]

Behind me we are having a fair to show people Loom, that is a dashboard which works on a single pane of glass to help you visualise and manage your system. We're having like a container management; we're working on visualisation methods and also alert mitigations.


I was a finalist last year. In the future I hope I can lead a team to make a big impact to computer science for example in the field of Artificial Intelligence.


One of the things that myself and my colleagues who have been reviewing some of the nominations and the proposals have seen, is the quality has been exceptionally high. Some of them have been very, very good at articulating the impact they managed to achieve and that's been a pretty refreshing thing to know, that there is capability and the skills based potentially in the UK and these ICT Pioneers I think are a pretty good example of that.