UCL opens research centre next to BT at Adastral Park
UCL opens research centre next to BT at Adastral ParkChris Evans-Pughe
University College London (UCL) has opened a blue-sky telecoms research centre next to BT’s research arm, BTexact at Adastral Park near Ipswich.
This is the first time a university has moved part of its postgraduate research to an industrial site.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, BT’s CEO Sir Peter Bonfield said: “This centre sums up everything I want to do with BT. It’s extremely radical, it’s an example of partnerships, it’s about acting at speed and it’s about innovation.”
He said he believed the opportunities would attract “some of the best postgraduates in the business to work alongside entrepreneurs and experienced technologists. This will be a self-fuelling, and hopefully virtuous, circle leading to greater innovation.”
Sir Chris Llewellyn Smith, provost of UCL, said the main role of universities was to push back frontiers of knowledge.
The work done on new technologies at universities, however, was “best carried out in a context likely to ensure that it is useful, that is in collaboration with industry,” he said.
BTexact is one of five initial industrial partners. The others are Agilent, Corning, Marconi, and Nortel Networks. All have long-standing relationships with UCL.
Between them they have assembled £15m to support research at the new centre. Participants in the wings include the DTI, ESPRC and other electronics firms.
Increasingly, the R&D within companies is geared to commercial opportunities that are two to three years away, said Phil Hargrave, chief scientist of Nortel Networks. “The UCL involvement gives us the opportunity to do more of what used to be called blue-sky research.”
Initial research themes for UCL at Adastral Park are: IP evolution for next generation networking; lightwave enabled multiservice networks; broadband mobile and wireless systems; and content, use and usability in applications.
All partners are collaborating on Photon, a project looking at components and networks for 100Gbit Ethernet.