Michael Tavilla

Michael Tavilla

Senior Officer, Science & Innovation Network

Part of Global Science and Innovation Network

6th September 2016 Boston, USA

Spotlighting Robotics Innovation in ‘Olde’ and ‘New’ England

keep calm and build robots small

The UK robotics cluster is fueled by more than a dozen academic research & development centres, long-term UK government funding support of £150 million, and companies that span sectors from medicine and healthcare, autonomous cars, defence technology and drones, manufacturing, agriculture, transport, and others. Most recently, a £5 million challenge was launched to focus collaboration between academia and industry to develop ‘new and novel’ robotics applications and technologies. The challenge was jointly designed by Innovate UK and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). The total number of projects is anticipated to be 18-24 with funding awards ranging  from £250-£50,000.

This strength and momentum can be complemented by growing connections to the innovation systems and assets of the world-class New England robotics cluster, positioning the UK’s academic and business communities to capture enormous global and national opportunities:

  • A recent McKinsey study estimates that by 2025 robotics and automation technologies will have an impact on global markets of between $9.8 and $19.3 trillion. Current estimates from Europe and Japan indicate that the market for robotics products and technology, excluding military uses,, will be £70 billion by 2020-2025.
  • Analysis of UK gross value-added (GVA) yields an estimate that robotics will have a high level of effect of 15% of GVA amounting to £218 billion and a lower level on more than half of the sectors in the economy.
  • One pan-national survey of industrial robot usage estimated that if the UK optimised its current robotics and automation technology, productivity in manufacturing would rise to 22%, with employment increases of up to 7%.

According to a study conducted by the Institute for Strategy & Competitiveness (ISC) at Harvard, ‘the Boston (robotics cluster) ranks first (in the US)…followed by Pittsburgh and then Silicon Valley. Boston has the most robotics companies in the cluster, greater than the two other combined.’

More specifically, assets in the New England robotics cluster include:

  • An expansive R&D ecosystem. In recent years, more than $200 million in public and private investment has occurred, helping fund the regions’ nearly 20 academic and other research institutions active in robotics, with programs across more than 40 research areas and sub-sectors.
  • Universities yielding talent and driving start-up and SME growth. For example, Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) launched the US’ first fully integrated Bachelor of Science degree programme in Robotics Engineering in 2007 and has since complemented it with Master’s and PhD programmes as well. What’s more, 60% of companies in the Massachusetts cluster are less than 10 years old, many spawned from the innovation pipelines at academic and research institutions.
  • Industry activity anchored in Massachusetts that’s fostering growth in robotics clusters in adjacent NE states. It’s estimated that robotics firms in the six New England states account for more than $3.4 billion in annual sales, with $1.9 billion in Massachusetts alone, and that these firms employ approximately 4,000 workers.

Highly unique and robust linkages and cooperation between academia, industry, and state and federal government is considered a driving force behind Boston’s success. And these dynamics came into focus at the inaugural Robotics in the UK & US (RUKUS) event convened by the UK Department for International Trade (DIT) and the Science & Innovation Network (SIN) in Boston in March 2016, connecting UK and US thought leaders and showcasing Boston and broader New England areas as hotbeds of research, innovation, and start-up activity.

For 2017, the Science & Innovation Network will build upon the momentum of RUKUS Boston by expanding the programme to other robotics hubs of innovation in the US with participants from the academic, defence, and SME communities.

1 comment on “Spotlighting Robotics Innovation in ‘Olde’ and ‘New’ England

Comments are closed.

About Michael Tavilla

Michael joined the British Consulate General-Boston in 2016 as a Senior Officer with a focus including smart/future cities, ICT sectors and cyber security, energy, and tech transfer. He joined the…

Michael joined the British Consulate General-Boston in 2016 as a Senior Officer with a focus including smart/future cities, ICT sectors and cyber security, energy, and tech transfer. He joined the Consulate after 6 years as a Senior Analyst with the Social & Public Sector Practice at the global management consultancy McKinsey & Company. At McKinsey, his focus was on regional economic development, innovation policy, and growth strategy for clients in North America in the state and local government and non-profit sectors. Prior to McKinsey, he was with Oracle Corp. as a Program Manager in the Global Strategy & Planning group that worked to strategically align the company’s geographic global footprint with product and business objectives.

Follow Michael