Intel is to turn London into a testbed for new technologies that it hopes can make city life more connected and sustainable.
The company announced the creation of the Intel Collaborative Research Institute for Sustainable Connected Cities on Thursday. About a dozen researchers will work there, in collaboration with both academia from Imperial College London and University College London and startups in the Tech City hub.
"In 2050, most of the nine billion people in the world will live in cities," Intel Labs director Justin Rattner said in a statement. "Therefore the demands of cities will be highly representative of the demands of humanity. Addressing these demands will be at the heart of the Intel Collaborative Research Institute for Sustainable Connected Cities, driving the development of new services to enhance people’s quality of life."
According to Intel, the new institute will try to figure out how technology can solve cities' social, economic and environmental problems.
"Using London as a testbed, researchers will explore technologies to make cities more aware by harnessing real-time user and city infrastructure data," the company said. "For example, a sensor network could be used to monitor traffic flows and predict the effects of extreme weather conditions on water supplies, resulting in the delivery of near real-time information to citizens through citywide displays and mobile applications."
The institute will also "engage with local urban communities to understand how they want to live" and get their input for the resulting technologies.
Intel also announced the establishment of its Intel Labs Europe UK R&D network, of which the London institute will form a part. Other named sites include Brighton, Swindon and Aylesbury. The network will end up with nine locations, and will have an overall remit of researching fields such as information security and high performance computing.
The company also unveiled an even wider Collaborative Research Institute programme, all of which will involve working with universities. Apart from London, Intel also launched similar institutes in Germany and Israel this week.
Although Intel has not said how much the London institute will cost in itself, the company did say on Thursday that it would be putting $40m (£26m) into the wider programme over the next five years.
"Now, more than ever, it is vital that universities collaborate with each other and with businesses on projects such as this," UCL vice-provost Stephen Caddick said. "Delivering research which can be taken out of the lab and onto the market, creating new business opportunities and jobs, and contributing to the growth to the UK economy we so urgently need."
The launch took place at 10 Downing Street, with chancellor George Osborne claiming Intel's move was "recognition of the government's commitment to ensuring that the UK becomes the technology centre of Europe, building on success such as Tech City and the recent investments in supercomputing".