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Stimulating innovation for competitiveness

The aims, priorities and delivery strategy of the Digital Communications KTN in helping to deliver a Digital Britain

The Digital Communications Knowledge Transfer Network (DC-KTN) takes a broad view of what constitutes communications. It includes, among other things, the network and service infrastructure through which people access content and services of all kinds: fixed and mobile access networks, broadcasting networks, the core network infrastructure and the service infrastructure for both content and communications services and their security.


The primary objective of the DC-KTN is to stimulate economic growth. It plans to achieve this through facilitating the development of digital communications technologies and their adoption as a key enabler in other industries.

To this end, it aims to:

  • Deliver improved industrial performance through innovation and new collaborations
  • Drive knowledge transfer between the supply and demand sides of digital communications
  • Facilitate innovation and knowledge transfer
  • Provide a forum for a coherent business voice to inform government of its needs
  • Encourage increasing inward investment and support the growth of the UK-based activities of global companies involved in digital communications
  • Promote digital communications as a sector that is vibrant and rewarding to work in.

A particular focus of this KTN is the application of the above in other sectors. This involves close collaboration with other KTNs such as Grid Computing, Location and Timing, Cyber Security, Photonics, Electronics, Healthcare Technologies, Intelligent Transport Systems and Creative Industries. The overall target is to ensure that future communications infrastructure will be fit for purpose.


The DC-KTN has been established on a not-for-profit basis by senior company representatives from the equipment manufacturer, network operator, service provider, application developer and broadcaster segments of the digital communications sector. It is funded principally by the Technology Strategy Board (TSB). It is governed by a Company Board of Directors, but also has a Programme Steering Group, which identifies the priorities for the DC-KTN. This priority list is monitored continually and updated as events happen and trends become apparent.

The current priority list comprises:

  • Broadband ? next generation access
  • Radio spectrum
  • UK participation in Framework Programme 7 (FP7) and other R&D collaboration
  • Broadcast and the role of the Internet
  • Digital communications skills
  • UK R&D ranking
  • Digital communications benchmarking missions
  • Readiness for UK Web 2.0 and beyond
  • Security and identity management
  • Support for Digital Britain (transport, education, health, and energy and the environment)
  • Payment systems in a digital communications world
  • Investors
  • The green agenda
  • The future of the Internet.

Delivery strategy

As a knowledge-transfer organisation, the DC-KTN has a number of primary forms of activity. The most important of these are events and working groups. In order to extend the reach of these activities, it has created a ?network of networks?, through which it collaborates with a wide selection of established organisations.


The total number of DC-KTN events held during the 12 months of operation to 31 July 2009 was 49. Of these, 19 were held in London, 30 in other regions of the UK. The total number of distinct individuals who participated in these events was 1,783. In addition, the DC-KTN has supported around 20 more events of interest to the sector which were managed by other organisations. Examples of the type of events held by the DC-KTN include:

  • Events on collaborative research, introduction to FP7 research support and a masterclass on raising FP7 funding
  • A series of events in next-generation access, including events on photonics technologies and a series of consultations on the issues and needs surrounding next-generation access roll-out
  • Events in collaboration with other sectors such as transport (Intelligent Transport Systems technologies and markets) and health (smart care and assisted living)
  • A competition for SMEs in the mobile sector to win stand space at the UKTI stand at the Mobile World Congress 2009 in Barcelona
  • Participation at technology shows such as Innovate ?08 and Technology World ?08
  • A series of events on spectrum, looking at the demand for spectrum and the possibilities of using broadcasting ?white space? for data communications.

Working groups

Working groups are a key mechanism to ensure that the activities of the DC-KTN are appropriately focused. They are formed where the DC-KTN recognises that it can benefit from regular input on a particular priority area. As with many other sectors, the digital communications sector is far too diverse to allow any one individual or a small group to keep up with all the relevant developments.

The Programme Steering Board therefore chooses areas of focus for working groups and a group of experts is then assembled to advise on the developments within that area. Key to the successful operation of a working group is the role of the Domain Expert. These are working group managers who have a level of expertise in the area covered. Their role is to ensure that the working groups maintain momentum ? a critical role when most working group members are senior people with demanding schedules.

Currently, the list of working groups includes:

  • Broadband ? next-generation access
  • Wireless technology and spectrum
  • Digital communications skills
  • Broadcasting
  • Collaboration (which has participation in FP7 collaborative research as a primary focus, but is also concerned with UK-based research such as calls from the TSB).

This list is expected to expand and change over time, with some groups running their course and wrapping up their activities and others emerging as new issues and priorities arise.

For further information, contact:
Philip Hargrave, DC-KTN CEO and Network Director
Tel: 020 7331 2056

Added the 04 October 2009 in category Innovation UK Vol5-2

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