Intel has announced the launch of the Intel Labs Europe UK Research & Development Network and its first research programme looking into technologies for sustainable, connected cities, teaming up with Imperial College London and University College London.
Announced at 10 Downing Street last night in the presence of the chancellor of the exchequer George Osborne the move sees the chip giant use its newly-formed research and development network - currently numbered at nine research locations across the UK including London, Brighton, Swindon and Aylesbury, with more planned - to solve some real problems.
A new facility in London, dubbed the Intel Collaborative Research Institute for Sustainable Connected Cities will investigate the social, economic and environmental challenges to city life in the hopes of finding technological solutions to issues including drought, long commutes and wasteful energy use.
'In 2050, most of the nine billion people in the world will live in cities,
' claimed Justin Rattner, Intel chief technology officer and director of Intel Labs, at the event. 'Therefore the demands of cities will be highly representative of the demands of humanity. Addressing these demands will be at the heart of the Intel Collaborative Research Institute for Sustainable Connected Cities, driving the development of new services to enhance people's quality of life.
The sustainable cities project is to be the first in a range for Intel's Collaborative Research Institute programme, also launched at Number 10 last night. The programme's aim is to drive - and, more importantly, fund - collaborative university research in fields including digital security, visual computing and computational intelligence.
'Now, more than ever, it is vital that universities collaborate with each other and with businesses on projects such as this,
' claimed Professor Stephen Caddick, vice-provost enterprise at University College London. 'Delivering research which can be taken out of the lab and onto the market, creating new business opportunities and jobs, and contributing to the growth to the UK economy we so urgently need.
It's not just about growing the UK's economy - despite what Intel may have told Osborne - however: 'The Institute could enable us to make all kinds of intelligent systems a reality in cities,
' claimed Edward Astle, pro rector enterprise at Imperial College London, at the announcement. 'One example of how our research could work in practice is where there is a major leak from a water supply, flooding the roads. We could introduce a network of sensors that would detect the leak, divert the flow of water to prevent more damage and wirelessly transmit information to transport authorities so that traffic could be diverted, preventing congestion and general city-wide disruption.
Intel's launching of the programme is a clear indication that the company is looking to invest in developing products and infrastructure to support the Internet of Things globally, following its announcement of the China Intel Internet of Things Joint Lab
earlier this year.