Innovator leads government initiative to scale-up robotics sector



Professor David Lane

A leading scientist and entrepreneur at Heriot-Watt University is to co-lead a new UK Government led partnership designed to help scale-up the UK's robotics and autonomous systems (RAS) industry.

Professor David Lane CBE FREng FRSE, Director of the Edinburgh Centre of Robotics, has been named co-chair of the Robotics Growth Partnership alongside Paul Clarke CBE, Chief Technology Officer at the online shopping and robotics giant, Ocado.

The ministerial appointments were announced recently by the Minister of State at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Chris Skidmore MP, during a series of speeches emphasising the Governments commitment to realising investment of 2.4% of GDP in research and development by 2027.

We want to make the UK one of the best places in the world to start and scale RAS businesses working internationally.

Professor David Lane

The Partnership will bring together representatives from across industry, academia and government to develop and lead execution of a strategy and action plan that will accelerate growth of the UK RAS sector to match that of international competitors

Professor Lane said: 'It has been an exciting five-years since the launch of the UK's RAS2020 strategy. Over £350m of UK Govt support matched by £150m of industrial gearing has supported development of Challenges, Assets, Skills and Clusters across the UK. Major centres of excellence have been established in Edinburgh, Bristol, London, Oxford, Manchester and Sheffield. Venture capital investment in RAS businesses has seen a tenfold increase to £250m in the last two-years. Other internal investments of over £1b have been made by British companies in consumer, grocery and transport sectors”

He continued “The task before us is to build on this national start-up of our nascent RAS industry, and scale-up to internationally competitive levels. Skills, investment, signposting, challenges, R&D, standards, certification, regulation, and ethics are just some of the focus areas where we must engage and bring a strategic focus. We want to make the UK one of the best places in the world to start and scale RAS businesses working internationally."

In the last five-years, Heriot-Watt University has led £120m of investment in the National ROBOTARIUM and the Edinburgh Centre for Robotics creating cutting-edge research and translation to industry. This includes the ORCA Hub for advanced robotics in offshore energy, the biggest single industrial strategy challenge fund investment in Scotland to date.  It also offers a range of teaching programmes in robotics and autonomous systems at undergraduate and postgraduate levels.


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