Developing collaborations in Industrial IoT workshop


The Industrial IoT workshop was held at the Siemens-University of Sheffield MindSphere Lounge on 19 June 2019.

Attendees from across 12 UK universities attended a one-day workshop to consider barriers to the exploitation of Internet of Things (IoT) technology.

Participants submitted specific impact challenges and case studies in advance with a view to collaboratively assessing problems faced and developing possible paths to exploitation.

A follow up ‘Barriers to IoT’ document will now be produced as will a document on ‘Guidance for pathways to impact in IoT proposals’.

People working in the MindSphere Lounge, Sheffield

Identifying shared barriers

The Pitch-In workshop ‘Developing collaborations in Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)’ aimed to develop an understanding of problems faced in the exploitation of Internet of Things (IoT) research and expertise. It emphasised the role academia can play in such collaborations, building an academic community around IoT knowledge exchange interests and explicitly fostering collaboration.

Academics and knowledge exchange professionals from 12 UK universities convened at the University of Sheffield, alongside representatives from Pitch-In’s industrial partner, Siemens.

Attendees reviewed experience of the barriers to exploiting IoT, with particular emphasis on knowledge exchange. For example, what stops academia spinning off companies exploiting IoT research, or providing intense IoT consultancy support to business, or collaborating with other higher education institutions (HEIs) or businesses? What actually stops businesses procuring IoT based solutions? How might academia help?

A number of common themes were identified around resource access, security and GDPR regulations, culture change and ensuring the development of a shared vision. Consideration was also given to reverse engineering a ‘worst-case scenario’ project to further highlight some of these challenges including: training needs, delivery timescales, and financial pressures.

“The workshop confirmed unified problems with collaboration which I will take back to my wider team.”
– Attendee feedback

Addressing IoT exploitation and skills needs

To address how academic IoT research and expertise might be better exploited, attendees submitted and reviewed impact challenges, voting on common themes to develop collaboratively at the workshop. Amongst these challenges were inclusively designed ‘smart care homes’ to maintain independent living for longer, IoT opportunities for environmental monitoring such as flood and fire prediction, support to upskill existing management and leadership teams within SMEs, and autonomous operation for manufacturing.

Utilising knowledge and expertise from different application domains enabled groups to identify wider opportunities than might otherwise have been considered, taking proposals away for further consideration.

The final speed-dating’ session drew together groups with broad overlapping interests to consider their overarching goals and research questions, reviewing what skills would be required to achieve their aims and formulate future IoT grant proposals.

“As someone who is new to IoT today has been an excellent introduction and chance to meet potential collaborators.”
– Attendee feedback

Working group in discussion

Outcomes and next steps

The input from attendees (prior to and at the event) will complement existing Pitch-In activity to produce a comprehensive summary of barriers to IIoT take up and further exploitation. We also aim to produce a guidance document for writing IIoT pathways to impact statements for UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) proposals. Drafts will be produced with attendees (and others) invited to collaborate and propose further improvements.

On the day, 90% of the feedback was very positive relating to networking opportunities, interesting topics and a well-structured workshop with a good environment for collaborations. Recommendations will be taken on board regarding the creation of a community ‘expert finder’ across UK universities and further consideration for the sharing of resources and demonstrators.