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£2M EPSRC investment for Strathclyde-led Network of Networks platform

02nd March 2023

A pioneering project led by the University is among a trio to benefit from a total £6M investment by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) – part of UK Research and Innovation.

Future communication networks including 6G, faster, more secure internet access and cloud computing technologies benefited from the funding, with three trailblazing platforms to develop innovations in communications systems, and connect the wider academic, business and international communities.

Communications networks

Professor Harald Haas, from Strathclyde’s Electronic and Electrical Engineering department and Director of the LiFi Research and Centre (LRDC), is leading the TITAN project, a consortium of 17 universities which leads research in crucial segments of future communication networks, and which received £2M from the funding call.

The partners are the universities of Bangor, Bristol, Cambridge, Durham, Edinburgh, Essex, Heriot Watt, Imperial College London, King's College London, Loughborough, Lincoln, Oxford, Queen's University Belfast, Queen Mary University of London, Southampton, Warwick and the Digital Catapult, the Bristol Digital Futures Institute, the Compound Semiconductor Centre and the Fraunhofer Centre for Applied Photonics, which is hosted at Strathclyde.

The consortium aims to establish a platform for research collaboration and engagement across academic, industrial and governmental partners and conduct unique and transformative research on the interfaces of classic communication network elements to achieve the seamless, open and fully integrated network of networks.

Economic growth

Professor Haas said: “While connectivity remains a key driver for economic growth, the global race for technologies that underpin future 6G and the metaverse has begun.

“I am thrilled to be working with more than 40 academic colleagues to jointly advance the diverse communication network technologies towards a fully inter-operable open network of networks. I am also delighted to work with future industry partners and government to shape standardisation of communication networks and to translate broad research excellence into creating wider industrial impact."

Communications networks are being developed in multiple environments, including terrestrial, underwater, and space which can link together fixed and increasingly mobile and multi-node infrastructures and can combine fibre optics systems with free-space operation.

They are also beginning to combine classical communications with quantum and are capable of multi-functionality, combining communications with distributed sensing and timing functions.

Professor Haas added: "We believe that it is crucially important to take a holistic view of this networking, in an end-to-end manner, understanding compatibility and interoperability between these systems, reducing the overall energy use and enhancing security performance as well as advancing the multi-function capability.”

Internet services

Another of the three projects to address the challenge of providing high-speed, low-latency access to internet services for future fixed and mobile users and led by the University of Oxford, also involves Strathclyde.

The third project into Cloud and Distributed Computing is led by Imperial College London. The CHEDDAR (Communications Hub for Empowering Distributed clouD computing Applications and Research) will drive research and networking across the UK academic community.

The initial exploratory platforms will enable researchers to network and gain support from the existing communications landscape. Over three years, the platforms will discover the pipeline of ideas and solutions to problems that we cannot yet solve, and develop those technologies and emergent ideas not yet ready for market, as well as exploit routes for technologies that are ready.

Jane Nicholson, EPSRC’s Director for Research Base, said: “Digital communications infrastructure underpins the UK’s economy of today and tomorrow and these projects will help support the jobs and industry of the future.

“Everybody relies on secure and swift networking and EPSRC is committed to backing the research which will advance these technologies.”

 


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