Mapping and facilitating IoT ecosystem

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< Project Overview >

Introduction

Mapping and facilitating interactions in the IoT ecosystem is an important endeavour as it can help identify areas where support is necessary, come up with solutions to growth barriers and help to overcome them. This project aimed to bring academic and industry stakeholders together in order to create a friendly and engaging space in which ideas could flow and new relationships could be formed.

We initially envisaged involving three academic partners in the project by holding events at their locations. However due to the pandemic, the event series moved online so that academic and industrial partners from across the country could join us. In fact, we often had international speakers/attendees at the events series that we would not have had otherwise. As such, we managed to have a far deeper industrial involvement in the project, with numerous talks and demonstrations.

Project aims

This project was a knowledge exchange project that aimed to achieve the following three objectives:

1. to map the NE of England IoT ecosystem,

2. study the barriers to adoption and growth and

3. in turn offers ways to overcome them.

The project was primarily aimed towards supporting IoT SMEs. It was also envisaged that by interacting with them, academic partners would have also benefited (e.g. by developing new research project ideas, negotiating access for projects, identifying opportunities for Teaching and Learning engagement etc).

What was done?

During the project we met our objectives by:

1. Updating and extending the IoT Nations database and in turn undertaking a text-mining exercise in order to map the activities that these companies were involved with.

2. Preparing a review of IoT related barriers and collecting empirical data to identify their relative importance.

3. Delivering a monthly webinar series (replacing the face-to-face events that were originally planned but which had to be cancelled due to the pandemic).

4. Creating the IoT marketing place which is part of the IoT North initiative.

Results

Overall, we have met our initially set objective. Due to pandemic restrictions, we had to replace one of the objectives that required face-to-face interactions with one that we could deliver remotely. Please refer to the next section for a more detailed account of all the reports and outputs produced while working on this project.

Deliverables and other tangible outputs

In this project we started by updating the IoT nations database which was then going to be used for mapping the clusters. We did so by cleaning the database first and then adding new companies to it. The final list featured about 1000 companies.
https://ebusiness.ncl.ac.uk/projects/pitchin-iot-ecosystem/iot-uk-company-database.php

We then clustered the companies and text mined their websites:
https://ebusiness.ncl.ac.uk/projects/pitchin-iot-ecosystem/iot-uk-company-clustering-report.php
https://ebusiness.ncl.ac.uk/projects/pitchin-iot-ecosystem/iot-uk-web-mining-report.php

In turn, we carried out a literature review of the barriers and produced an empirical report on them:
https://ebusiness.ncl.ac.uk/projects/pitchin-iot-ecosystem/iot-barriers.php
https://ebusiness.ncl.ac.uk/projects/pitchin-iot-ecosystem/iot-barriers-companies.php

In addition, we ran more than a dozen IoT webinars for practitioners. For each event we produced a report, and videos of the talks were posted online. We have also produced videos to disseminate the findings.
https://ebusiness.ncl.ac.uk/projects/pitchin-iot-ecosystem/iot-meetup.php

Given the on-going circumstances imposed by the pandemic, the only thing we have not been able to work on was to engage on Arrow projects (although we did refer 2-3 cases). This was due to the ongoing restrictions and not being able to meet companies in person at the events that were originally planned (these were moved online). Instead it was agreed to replace this activity with support to the IoT north community. To this end we have supported the creation of an IoT marketplace. https://iotnorth.uk/

Impact

During the past 12 months we have delivered a highly successful event series that featured numerous practical talks on developing IoT applications and services. These have hopefully opened opportunities for engagement among stakeholders.

We originally envisaged that we would be able to also have such engagement opportunities between academics and practitioners (via the Arrow Scheme that in turn could have led to KTPs). Unfortunately, due to the ongoing restrictions it was not possible to work on this part of the project. Instead, this was replaced with a new work package that involved creating an online marketplace that companies could use to engage with others while looking for solutions for IoT challenges. The new marketplace is expected to be fully operational in March 2021. Once restrictions are lifted we would like to bring the event series to the University as originally planned and revisit the Arrow Scheme interactions. In the meantime we will continue supporting the IoT webinars going forward.

Next steps

Going forward we are going to support the IoT North meetups. We hope that the established relationships will open up opportunities for future research and T&L projects. The end of the on-going restrictions will be catalytic to this as we will have the opportunity to meet company representatives at events and form more meaningful relationships. In turn we would like to explore funded project opportunities (such as KTPs).

Lessons learned

Overall the project went along the expected lines. We were able to meet most of our objectives as originally planned. In particular the collaboration with external industry practices when it come to the IoT North initiatives was extremely successful.

The main challenge faced was the restrictions that the pandemic imposed on us. As we could not organise the events face-to-face and had to take them online it became apparent that interactions with companies were not going to work as expected when meeting individuals at events. As a result we had to reconfigure this part and find different ways to meet our objective of facilitating interactions among stakeholders.

Overall everything that was within our remit worked as expected. The on-going pandemic circumstances meant that things had to take place in a different way. Still this did not impact significantly the overall objectives and delivery of the project.

Access to deliverables, resources and media content

All the information, reports and videos generated while working on the project are available at the projects website: https://ebusiness.ncl.ac.uk/projects/pitchin-iot-ecosystem/index.php.

What has Pitch-In done for you?

The project has been a great way to bring academic and industry stakeholders together. It has opened up new opportunities for collaboration when it comes to research and teaching and learning.

Project lead: Professor Savvas Papagiannidis, Newcastle University 

Project partners: