Interesting data on global wages for tech developers from Techcrunch as it acknowledges its not just about London either ….
The economics are even better for Bristol & Bath, coupled with a much higher quality of life
The Bristol is Open programme is aiming to be the world’s first programmable city by opening up a scalable software defined network (SDN) operating system to researchers and companies.
The netOS operating system developed by the High Performance Computing group at the University of Bristol runs on the BlueCrystal supercomputer at the University and controls a network of 144 fibres across the city of Bristol, giving terabit/s of bandwidth. The key to the programme is that the network can be divided up into separate virtual ‘slices’ so that many applications can all run independently. This will allow individual applications from 100Mbit/s up to 100Gbit/s to be tested out, something which hasn’t been possible up until now, says Prof Dimitira Simeonidou, head of the research group and chief technology officer of Bristol is Open. All of this is combined into the CityOS and makes it fundamentally different to other smart cities such as Barcelona.
The network currently has four nodes connecting the University, the EngineShed business acceleration centre, the Watershed digital creative incubator and the @Bristol science centre. This will allow startups to use the network to develop new smart city hardware and applications. It will also allow the Planetarium at @Bristol to be used to display immersive 3D Ultra HD video over the network coupled with data from BlueCrystal.
Part of the aim is to be able to research future generations of technologies needed for mobile wireless, says . “We are researching 5G at the moment but this has to be able to support 10Gbit/s speeds for when 10G wireless comes along,” she said. Elements of this are already happening with Blu Wireless Technology using its 60GHz gigabit wireless technology to connect to the network.
The optical switches are coming from Polatis and BiO has signed a memorandum of understanding with NEC for more network equipment. It is also working with Silver Spring to install a mesh network using the WiSUN protocol on lampposts across the city to collect data. Bristol City Council will also make data from the city available as part of the programme.
The other key aspect is the ability to emulate, rather than simulate, other cities with many more nodes. The emulator is based on Xilinx FPGA cards and allows the network topology of other larger cities to be run on the BiO infrastructure. This would allow cities such as New York or Hong Kong to test out new topologies and applications for 1000 or 1500 nodes, using real infrastructure and real data, without impacting on the running of a megacity. And because the Bristol network is connected to high bandwidth academic networks such as SuperJANET, real data can be used to test out the emulation in real time. Bristol’s sister city of Guangzhou in China is already interested in using this capability.
So how easy is Bristol’s success to replicate asks the FT? The city’s digital entrepreneurs describe several key advantages.The area has a strong pool of workers with engineering expertise. For years, Bristol and its surroundings have been a base for microelectronics and aerospace companies. Hewlett-Packard, BAE Systems and Rolls-Royce have all had a substantial presence in recent times.
Another interesting statistic quoted in the article is that engineers are 30-50% cheaper in the region than in London.
Blu Wireless Technology has been demonstrating its HYDRA gigabit modem technology in a chip at the Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona (see video below).
The baseband system IP for 60GHz wireless has been implemented in a 40nm CMOS chip that can be used for the ‘WiGig’ 802.11ad 60GHz version of wifi that is starting to get traction in laptops and talets. It can also be used for wireless Back Haul for LTE mobile networks and for other high speed networks such as Bristol is Open which formally launches tomorrow (as detailed in the January High Tech newsletter). Bristol startup BWT supplies a complete multi-Gigabit capable baseband processor with all the associated firmware so that customers can quickly build their own millimetre wave gigabit wireless modem chips.
“The successful validation and demonstration of our HYDRA Gigabit System IP represents a major milestone in Blu Wireless’s technology roadmap,” said Henry Nurser, Blu Wireless Technology CEO. “Customers looking to license HYDRA for their own millimetre wave products can now be confident in going to market with this class leading technology.”
HYDRA, developed in Bristol, is based on a unique and patented architecture, which combines software defined parallel processing functions. These are controlled using a MIPS microAptiv CPU with hardware accelerators for fixed communication functions. This allows customers to adapt and add value to wireless modem applications with unique algorithms for channel equalisation, modulation or beamforming – all programmable through the robust, industry standard software tools provided by Imagination Technologies for its MIPS CPUs. Imagination has two design centres in the region.
This collaboration with Imagination is vital, says Nurser to get the maximum performance and efficiency from the multiple MIPS CPUs in the design. “Blu Wireless has made excellent progress with their innovative HYDRA IP implementation on 40nm,” said Tony King-Smith, EVP of marketing at Imagination Technologies. “We’re impressed with the performance they have achieved, thanks in part to MIPS’ high-performance, power-efficient architecture for multi-core embedded designs, and our comprehensive MIPS tools. ”
Since late 2014 the lead HYDRA chip has been integrated with a 60 GHz phased array radio front-end to create Blu Wireless’s Lightning evaluation and development platform which are available now as well. The module integrates a full ‘OpenFlow’ SDN client which supports wireless mesh networking. It is currently being deployed as part of Bristol is Open to demonstrate gigabit rate wireless mesh networking for dynamic data backhaul applications.
The ‘Lightning’ module is integrated into a robust mechanical housing for deployment in outdoor applications and is available with a mounting kit for lamppost deployment.
Mark Barrett, CMO at Blu Wireless said: “The ‘Lightning’ module represents a total system solution for the next generation of flexible gigabit capable backhaul technologies. The unique combination of low profile 60 GHz phased array technology, gigabit modem and adaptive mesh networking using SDN ‘Openflow’ techniques will deliver lower TCO and scalable data delivery capabilities to service the increased data demand of mobile networks”
A major piece of research is being undertaken to ensure the West of England region capitalises on the huge opportunities the future of gaming, animation and visual effects will bring following the successful SW VR conference.
Bristol design tool startup Somnium Technologies is using the local expertise of TVS to test out its technology before its launch.
Somnium has developed a new way of developing embedded code to make the process much more reliable and bug free, and TVS performed important installation testing of Somnium DRT. This uses a patented resequencing technology to automatically optimise embedded software, resulting in smaller, faster executables. Before DRT’s general availability release, Somnium wanted to be confident of the best out of the box experience for its customers, who use a wide variety of host platforms, so it contacted TVS for its proven experience in this field.
“Installation is the first step in the user experience, and it is often under-tested in real-user scenarios,” said Dave Edwards, Founder and CEO/CTO of Somnium Technologies. “We felt it was best practise to bring in a level of independence and we naturally turned to TVS because of its expertise in this area.”
Jamie Packer, VP of Customer Engineering at Somnium added: “We already perform extensive automated testing of functionality and standards compliance using several test suites. However, it is impossible to automate the experience of new users with different expectations and a variety of hardware and software configurations. The testing performed by TVS was extremely useful and thorough. TVS tried a number of interesting corner cases. This has led to improvements in both the installation process and the documentation.”
“SOMNIUM is very proactive in recognising the importance of independent installation testing. Many companies overlook this aspect, and hence many new users report a negative experience when starting with a new tool,” said Mike Bartley, Founder and CEO of TVS.
The first event under the new partnership will focus on sustainability and take place on March 11th at the Gloucestershire offices of global engineering giant Renishaw. Attendees will be welcomed by Gareth Hankins, the company’s Manufacturing Director, and hear about ‘Sustainability the Renishaw approach’ before a Q&A session and a site tour to finish.
Tech firms across the South West have benefited from the latest £47m round of the government’s Regional Growth Fun
LED developer and manufacturer Plessey Semiconductors in Plymouth and Swindon, specialist automotive test equipment maker Anthony Best Dynamics Ltd in Bradford on Avon, chip designer Cambridge Silicon Radio in Bristol and test systems maker Spirent Communications in Paignton have all received backing from round 6 of the fund. Avanti Communications Group in Penzance and Hymec Aerospace (UK) in Plymouth are also beneficiaries
A TEAM of Exeter University students have reached the final four of an international competition to showcase technological innovation.
The Computer Science undergraduates devised a ground-breaking home security system which allows doors to be locked and unlocked via a normal mobile phone. The four-strong team of Matthew Gilbert, Joshua Holmes, George Young and Ashleigh Udoh were one of around 20 university teams from across the UK and the US to enter the Project Arduino competition organised by Thales, a leading engineering and technology company.
Team Lockduino are now facing the University of Reading in the UK, and Caltech and the University of California, Irvine, both in the US, in the final showdown. They face a public online vote at http://www.thalesarduino.com to decide who will be the overall winner. Voting closes on Monday, February 23 at 5pm UK
US startup of the year Uber has submitted an application to Bristol City Council’s licensing department to operate a taxi-like service in the city.
Uber, founded in San Francisco in 2009 and now valued at $40bn, uses an app on a smart phone with an agreed scale of charges. It doesn’t use taxis but ‘ride shares’, although minicab drivers can be Uber drivers.
Using a smart phone allows drivers to see their fares’ exact location using the in-built GPS and users to see the nearest available cars to their location and for them to trace the journey of their cab on an interactive map as they wait for its arrival.
The company already operates in hundreds of cities across the globe, including London and Manchester in the UK, and is focussing on a huge expansion in Europe which it claims could create 50,000 new jobs.
But the company has caused controversy – and has even been banned in some countries.
Just behind Ikea is a tech software company StorMagic! Bristol data storage business StorMagic trebles sales and plans further expansion | Blog.
Great piece on the strength of the cluster – more details to come! Bristol and Bath named biggest UK tech business cluster outside London | Blog.
Simon Young came back to the region this month to head up the West of England Aerospace Forum (WEAF)- ‘Future’s fantastic for our aerospace industry,’ he says
Great story from Rob Buckland that gives an overview of Bristol as a key ‘smart city’
Photonics equipment maker Gooch & Housego has received £1.2m in government funding to support its business in Torbay with 60 new jobs as part of a major expansion.
The company designs, manufacture and supplies fibre optic solutions used across the aerospace, defence, industrial, life science and scientific research sectors and is investing £18million in expanding in the region.
“This company is a great example of how the Regional Growth Fund is helping to build a stronger, more resilient economy and a fairer society,” said environment Minister Dan Rogerson.
“The Regional Growth Fund has enabled us to further strengthen our capabilities in Torbay and facilitate sustainable strategic growth over the next decade and beyond,” said Dr Andrew Robertson, Senior Vice President System Technology Group at Gooch and Housego. “With the ongoing support of the Torbay Development Agency, the fund has allowed us to recruit six new people already and we hope to add thirty more to the team in the coming three years with this number growing to 60 in the next ten. This will allow us to add many new skills to our R&D team, build our talent pool of Photonics Engineers and continue to expand of our production facilities, crucial to securing our long-term growth.”
So far £210 million of RGF money has been invested in businesses across the South West, helping to create 36,000 new jobs as companies have committed to investing an additional £700 million.
RGF Round Six, which will make at least £200 million available to companies across England, has just closed with 174 applications totalling more than £800 million. Thirty two bids worth £109 million were received from the South West. Successful bidders will be announced in the New Year.
A new initiative to encourage and support the take up of robotics technology within industry across Europe has been set up at the Bristol Robotics Laboratory (BRL).
The Robotics Innovation Facility (RIF) based at BRL is part of the ECHORD++ project, a €20 million initiative funded by the 7th Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development. There are three RIFs in Europe. The Bristol RIF is the lead institution – the other two RIFs are based at SSSA, Pisa in Italy, and CEA, Paris in France, launching in January. Bristol acts as the clearing house for the projects to be allocated to the most suitable centre, and there is a small fund to support travel and subsistence for the project duration.
The Bristol RIF aims to stimulate the interaction between robot manufacturers, researchers, and end users, by providing free access to robotics equipment and experts. Technical support is provided by a dedicated RIF team, with additional assistance from engineers and scientists within Bristol Robotics Laboratory. The projects can be about control systems and electronics as much as robotics and software and the project will run until 2018.
The RIF acts as a gateway for business, especially SME’s, to help them work with new robotic technologies; develop markets for new robotic products, services or processes; demonstrate proof of concept in novel robot application areas; and develop new value chains in existing and emerging sectors. Projects can have up to 6 weeks of support with equipment and engineers. This can be extended if the project needs it.
“SMEs, other businesses and manufacturers can sometimes find it difficult to access the latest technology, and understand the potential of robotics and how future deployment could help their business. For example, companies frequently have a product or process idea or improvement but can’t take it to the next stage within their current capabilities,” said Farid Dailami, who heads the Bristol RIF. “A company may hear that an expensive robot could help their production capacity, but they are unable to access the equipment or software that would allow them to verify this before investing significant time and money in a new system. Through the RIF we would be able to carry out the necessary experiments and modelling to help them understand possibilities, and resource permitting, support them in getting extra funding to continue development. We can also introduce companies to national and Europe-wide networks beneficial to the development of their innovation and ideas.
“In the first instance companies get in touch with us and through an application process we learn more about what they are trying to do. If the company is eligible, and once we are clear what the problem is and how we can help, we set up a meeting and take the process forward. We are also offering a series of workshops which will help participants to develop their understanding of this field and the potential of robotics to enhance their business.”
Professor Chris Melhuish, Director of the Bristol Robotics Laboratory says, “BRL is leading the way in Europe in this project, providing a service that bridges the gap between industry and the latest research in robotics. At BRL we are committed to research that that has a positive impact on society, industry and the economy. The RIF is an opportunity for us to share the latest innovations in robotics and support existing and new businesses in an ever increasing competitive economy.”
DTVKit, the digital TV open software software supplier, has launched a new membership level for companies wanting to use more than silicon supplier.
Product Plus membership provides the opportunity for members to work with whichever silicon platform they choose, even if the vendor is not a DTVKit delivery member. The membership grants unlimited royalty free rights to use DTVKit software compiled to run on any silicon platform, and as with Product membership, unlimited access to the source code. This is based on the proven technology developed by Ocean Blue Software over the last ten years that is used in over 15 million of TVs and set top boxes around the world.
As an enhancement of ‘Product’ membership, existing members can also upgrade to ‘Product Plus’ at any time.
“Introducing a third level of membership means that we are able to offer a more flexible option to new and existing members,” said Amy Cleary, Marketing and Operations manager at DTVKit. “Product Plus allows access not just to the suite of software components, but also enables members to commercially exploit them on any silicon platform. Having spent time listening to our members needs and expectations, we felt this introduction was a progressive step forward for the foundation’s growth.”
Current members of DTVkit include global manufacturer Tatung Technology and OEM box makers such as Eagle Kingdom Technologies using source code from OBS. This formed the v1.0 release from DTVKit by way of perpetual, irrevocable royalty free licence.
“OBS has, in recent years, been moving from a royalty based model to becoming a service and support provider to its customers. By licensing our software to DTVKit, OBS were able to move completely into the role of integration and support provider for members of DTVKit,” said Cleary.
“Using our expertise we are able to provide a high level of service to those members requiring it in order to achieve the fastest possible time to market. It also allows us to move ahead with developing new applications and functionality that can offer added value to the users of DTVKit, secure in the knowledge that as the membership of DTVKit expands, the risk inherent in such developments is considerably reduced,” she said.
“So far, our experience with DTVKit has been very positive, we are seeing the membership grow and this is generating significant opportunities for OBS. Our next challenge will be to manage the growth of OBS in order to maintain the high level of service we believe our customers deserve.
Bristol-based verification expert TVS has won a key deal helping develop avionics hardware in China.
TVS is one of the fastest growing tech companies in the UK, providing tools and expertise to ensure that hardware and software works the way it should. It has won a significant verification service project in China with TopBrain Design Systems to verify a new avionics FPGA design in compliance with DO-254 avionics standard. This standard is recognized by the Federal Avionics Administration (FAA) in the US as a means of compliance for the design of complex electronic hardware in airborne systems. Such hardware includes FPGAs, PLDs and ASICs and is the counterpart to the well-established software standard RTCA DO-178B/EUROCAE ED-12B. With DO-254, the FAA recognises that avionics equipment contains both hardware and software, and each is critical to the safe operation of aircraft.
The verification project service by TVS helps the leading company to verify its safety critical avionics FPGA designs. TVS will be applying advanced verification techniques such as constrained random verification, functional verification and assertion-based verification to the project. As required by DO-254 requirements traceability will be applied and TVS will use its unique asureSIGN technology to ensure that requirements can be traced to the verification data generated through the advanced verification techniques being applied.
“This deal confirms the strength of our partnership with TopBrain. There is a strong demand for advanced verification expertise in China and with more than 130 skilled engineers globally, TVS is well equipped to respond to those needs, and it makes perfect sense for TVS to collaborate with TopBrain,” said Mike Bartley, CEO and founder of TVS. “There are also a number of additional avionics products being designed in China that all require DO-254 compliance where TVS has lots of expertise.”
As a result TVS and TopBrain are considering further DO254 projects in China and as part of its strategy in the country, TVS plans to open an office there in 2015 to strengthen and underpin its presence in the region.
The Science Communication Unit at the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) is working with Bristol Robotics Laboratory and Bristol Zoo Gardens to inspire young people to have a go at designing robots inspired by animals. The Robots vs Animals competition launches today during Tomorrow’s Engineers Week (3-9 November), and is funded by the Royal Academy of Engineering.
Young people aged between 11 and 18 are invited to answer the challenge, ‘What amazing animal ability would you use to design a useful robot?’ The winning entries will be exhibited as part of the Festival of Nature 2015, in the centre of Bristol.
Entry details can be found on the Robots vs Animals page.
As well as the national competition, local schools have the chance to participate in Robots vs Animals bioengineering sessions at Bristol Zoo. The sessions are designed for Years 8 and 9, and include the chance to interact with live animals and cutting-edge robots. “Robots vs Animals is an exciting collaborative project designed to inspire and enthuse young people about the possibilities of engineering as a career. Working with Bristol Zoo Gardens, we are developing workshops which demonstrate how engineering can solve real-world problems by taking inspiration from other realms, such as animals in nature,” said Project leader Laura Fogg-Rogers. “We are really keen to see the designs and creations young people can up with. Biomimicry is such an interesting area of engineering – just think of the possibilities for a robot with the flight of a bird, the sensing power of shrews’ whiskers, or the gentle strength of a monkey’s hand! We hope the young people who take part are really inspired by the competition to continue and develop their skills as engineers.”
The aim of the project overall is to demonstrate engineering as a creative, exciting and innovative field, and encourage a wider range of young people, both boys and girls, to consider it as a career possibility. The competition is a chance for young people to get inspired by nature in order to solve real-world problems.
Competition entrants will need to consider how their robot could be useful by solving real-world problems. It might be a robot that helps us to become more sustainable or supports our health and wellbeing. The robot also needs to take its inspiration from an animal, with careful consideration of the materials that it will be built with and the engineering design process used to make it work.
The winning entry will receive a Rover 5 Raspberry Pi Robot, with other great robotics prizes for runners up, all sourced from Dawn Robotics, a start-up business based in the Technology Business Incubator at the Bristol Robotics Laboratory.
The closing date is 17:00 on 18 May 2015.