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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/S032045/1
Title: eFutures 2.0: Addressing Future Challenges
Principal Investigator: Woods, Professor RF
Other Investigators:
O'Neill, Professor A
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
ARM Ltd Technology Strategy Board (Innovate UK)
Department: Sch of Electronics, Elec Eng & Comp Sci
Organisation: Queen's University of Belfast
Scheme: Network
Starts: 13 May 2019 Ends: 12 May 2023 Value (£): 484,102
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Electronic Devices & Subsys.
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Electronics Information Technologies
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
05 Mar 2019 EPSRC ICT Prioritisation Panel March 2019 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
The technological developments in electronics over the last decade has been demonstrated by the evolution in the smartphone which has transformed how we interact with each other and the infrastructure. With Arm and Imagination Technologies, the UK has been at the centre of this innovation with some developments emerging directly from the university sector. A similar revolution is now expected as we face the challenge of applying innovative sensor technology and embedded solutions to a wider range of applications. For this to happen, a multidisciplinary approach as proposed here, is required such that electronic developments match the challenging environment issues that pharmaceutical, chemical, agriculture applications bring.

The electronics systems industry is worth £100B for the UK economy and represents 3% of the total UK workforce. A lot of this activity is at the high end of the value chain, highlighting the need for advanced design skills and innovative manufacturing processes. Thus, there is a clear need to supply a dependable number of high-quality, postgraduate-qualified staff for this industry as much of this activity is specialist either in the form of start-up companies such as Gold Standard Simulations (GSS) Ltd., or existing major industries such as ARM, IQE etc.. The UK has had a internationally-recognised but relatively small, electronics systems academic base which acts to support this activity.

For the past three years, the eFutures network has played a critical role in uniting this academic base and engaging with UK industry. As of 2018, the network had a healthy membership of 450 and had organised an exciting and successful range of networking events. It has acted to strengthen links with the electronics industry, increase the number of ECRs and engage with EPSRC. However, there is a clear need to have a new and revised networking activity to address new challenges as we start to explore the potential wider applications of electronics. With the increasing diversity of use of electronics in industries such as food, biotechnology, sensors, etc.., new types of technologies and innovative electronic systems need to be created. To address this, there needs to be a concerted effort to bring down barriers and encourage the electronic systems community to engage and collaborate with researchers from these disciplines and vice-versa. As a result of the activities in this proposal, we would like to envisage that they would be 12 new major collaborations that exist due to our efforts.

In addition to exploring new avenues, it is important to both strengthen and grow the current network. Whilst the improvement in ECR engagement can be viewed as an eFutures success, the trials of academic administrative challenges and the numerous company possibilities can result in loss of ECRs. This will have a highly detrimental impact on not only the UK's research base but on the education of future suitably-qualified, engineering students. Moreover, it is vital that there is a national community to support them and indeed to support MCRs in their continued development and their interaction with researchers, industry and funding bodies.

The purpose of this proposal is to address all of these key concerns by creating a new networking activity called eFutures2. Using a number of meeting formats and use of multidisciplinary scoping exercises, The network will act to double in size and create a number of major interdisciplinary collaborations directly attributable to eFutures2. To achieve this exciting agenda, we have brought together a younger, stronger and more diverse team of investigators which reflects greater age, gender and ethnicity balance. The true measures of success of the network will be an increase in the volume of active researchers in electronic systems and an increase in the number of multidisciplinary EPSRC, commercial and EU grants.
Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Date Materialised
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Organisation Website: http://www.qub.ac.uk