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PA Consulting supports unique collaboration to develop a new generation of sensor technologies

Plans for a new generation of sensors – technology that underpins the UK economy – are to be prepared in a unique industrial, academic and Government collaboration announced today.

The University of Birmingham, BAE Systems, BT and BP are working together to enable the development and integration of new sensing technologies. This remarkable joint initiative between three of the largest corporations on the FTSE100 will drive forward cutting-edge innovation. PA Consulting, which specialises in accelerating the pace of innovation and transformation cross industry, is bringing its expertise to the collaboration to identify cross-sectoral synergies where the partnership can bind together. 

This unprecedented initiative to create a ‘road map’ for action will be driven by the Government-funded UK Quantum Technology Hub Sensors and Timing, part of the UK National Quantum Technologies Programme led by and based at the University of Birmingham. 

The collaboration will draw on unrivalled experience of the ‘system of systems’ that knits together critical infrastructure in the UK, using that knowledge to establish a comprehensive technology ‘road map’ of where advanced sensor requirements will be needed. 

It is estimated that a critical failure of sensor technology in the UK would cause the economy to lose £5.2 billion in the first five days alone. 

The need for new sensors, which make devices safe, workable and accurate, has emerged as world economies move closer to turning quantum technologies into products. The products developed will push the boundaries of what is known and can be done, profoundly transforming the economy and wider society. Existing sensor technology risks becoming outdated and outpaced by the accelerating speed of technological developments, mainly driven by the coming quantum revolution. 

Professor Kai Bongs, Principal Investigator of the UK Quantum Technology Hub Sensors and Timing, said: “This venture is a call to overcome sectoral boundaries and join forces to address challenges such as well-being in an ageing society; fast broadband for everyone; productivity in infrastructure; resilient navigation; security of autonomous transport; and reduced carbon emissions.

“Working together, this extraordinary and powerful partnership will produce the creativity and innovation that is crucial to the creation of new sensors. These will be integral to resolving major economic and societal challenges and opportunities ahead. 

“Our collaboration will inform and guide new sensor development together with their integration and exploitation, tailored to the needs of practical applications. 

“The companies in this collaboration, each a leader in its respective sector, recognise both the disruptive potential of quantum technologies and the opportunity for acceleration of products into the market that could be achieved through leveraging common action.” 

Paul Martin, Quantum Technology Expert at PA Consulting, commented: “This is an exciting development to provide ingenious leadership in key markets for quantum sensing. The opportunity to scale technology for commercial benefit is huge – we are delighted to help bring it to life.” 

Julia Sutcliffe, Chief Technologist for BAE Systems Air, said: “Our collaboration with Birmingham University means we can quickly take technology from a lab environment and apply it in real-world scenarios.  For example, our test pilots are trialing novel technologies to measure cognitive workload both on the ground and in the air. It means we can test how intuitive and effective it really is, and ensure this learning is fed back into the research and development at an early stage.”

Richard Debney, Vice President Data Science at BP, said: "Our work has always relied on the most advanced sensors and data processing available. Sensor innovation will be important to help us achieve net zero by 2050 and pivot to an integrated energy company focused on delivering solutions for customers.”

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