Transcript for EPSRC Prosperity Partnerships – University of Lancaster and BT

Jonathan Legh-Smith - Head of Strategic Research and Partnerships, BT (JL):

My name is Jonathan Legh-Smith, Head of Strategic Research and partnerships at BT and I am teaming up with Professor Nick Race from the University of Lancaster on the next generation converged digital infrastructure.

Professor Nick Race - Professor of Networking, Lancaster University (NR):

So, we are here at the home of BT research and development at Adastral Park and this showcase highlights all of the exciting new applications and services that we are likely to see in the next five to ten years.  All of these applications and services will pose huge challenges to network infrastructures, from network capacity to network latency, and it’s these challenges that the new prosperity partnership with BT will be addressing. 

JL: What we are looking to do is to look ahead at what the real future digital infrastructure for the UK ought to look like.  What we should expect it to deliver for ourselves as citizens and for businesses and for the economy as a whole.  What we would like to think is that as a user we have seen no difference going forward in whether we are accessing a mobile network, a Wi-Fi network or whether we’re using a fixed network, it should all be about the experience and accessibility to the services of what we want to access.  BT of course has a workforce of approximately 100,000 employees and a proportion of those are dedicated to R&D, but for the longer term more profound questions, we absolutely rely on our strategic university partners to help us direct the work and also shape our own understanding.

NR: We have about 41 million people in the UK that are estimated to be using the internet on a daily basis and that is going to be expanded upon with new devices, new sensors, new cars and vehicles, that may be connected to networks and of course people.  And so to meet these challenges we need new foundational research in a range of areas.  We have a number of different researchers from the Universities of Cambridge, Surrey and Bristol that together are working on this problem across networking and communications, around data science, around industrial automation and organisational behaviour and combining all of those research skills to deliver this new digital infrastructure for the UK. 

JL: Our prosperity partnership is more than just the research activities.  We’ll also help shape the direction of future collaborations either bilateral or large scale projects. As substantial as this program is, it is not going to be able to address all of the challenges we have, so as well as the work we will be doing, we will also be setting a framework for others to be able to undertake their own research and understand how it fits within a strategic ambition for the UK.