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Tommy Flowers Institute for ICT launched at BT's Adastral Park

Press release   •   Sep 29, 2016 12:04 BST

Academic researchers to collaborate with ICT industry to maximise impact of UK research

A new Higher Education ICT training institute, named after computing pioneer Tommy Flowers, was launched today at BT’s Adastral Park technology and research campus near Ipswich, Suffolk.

The institute will focus on bringing ICT-sector organisations together with academic researchers to solve some of the challenges facing UK businesses, exploring areas such as cyber-security, ‘Big Data’, autonomics and converged networks.

An initial series of lectures and workshops will start this Autumn.

The Institute will:

  • Create world-class research leaders who can improve the impact of research for both universities and the digital business community in the UK;
  • Improve the links between academic research and commercial opportunities in the industry so that research leads to new product innovations for consumers and businesses.
  • Focus on current ICT issues, and multi- and inter-disciplinary research, enabling a rapid and effective response to current and future industry and societal challenges;
  • Ensure an ongoing supply of well-rounded ICT post-graduates and post-doctoral researchers with a thorough commercial and operational perspective to complement their technical excellence.

Dr Tim Whitley, head of research for BT, and MD of Adastral Park, said: “This institute will bridge the gap between industrial research and the fantastic talent that exists in the academic sector. It’s appropriate that it is named after Tommy Flowers, a true pioneer of computing and communications technology, who brought together the best of industry and academia to create the world’s first Electronic Programmable Computer.”

The Vice-Chancellor of the University of East Anglia, together with the Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the University of Essex, have joined forces with professors from Cambridge, Oxford, Imperial, Southampton, Surrey, Lancaster and many more universities to launch the initiative in conjunction with major technology companies including Huawei, Ericsson, CISCO, ARM and ADVA.

Dr Richard Burguete, Postgraduate Institute Director, National Physical Laboratory, said: “The TFI will become a vibrant hub at the centre of academia and industry for ICT that aligns with the mission of our national laboratory, and as it complements our own Post Graduate Institute we look forward to working closely together. TFI will enhance the capabilities of the UK’s postgraduate students through an exciting array of activities, conferences and networking opportunities. We fully support this initiative and will help it to succeed.”

Notes to editors

Tommy Flowers was an electrical engineer working in the telecommunications division of the General Post Office, which later became BT in 1981.

In November 1943 Flowers developed ‘Colossus’ at the Ministry of Defence’s code-breaking facility in Bletchley Park. The world’s first programmable computer, Colossus was designed to counter the reputedly unbreakable Lorenz cipher used by the German High Command.

The thermionic valve-based, programmable Colossus successfully broke the Lorenz cipher and went on to provide information critical to the success of the D-Day landings and Allied war effort.

In all, Flowers and his team built ten Colossus machines, all of which remained in service throughout World War II.

Then, after the war, Flowers went on to direct ground-breaking research in the field of telecommunications, including the development of the first all-electronic telephone exchange.

About BT

BT’s purpose is to use the power of communications to make a better world. It is one of the world’s leading providers of communications services and solutions, serving customers in 180 countries. Its principal activities include the provision of networked IT services globally; local, national and international telecommunications services to its customers for use at home, at work and on the move; broadband, TV and internet products and services; and converged fixed-mobile products and services.BT consists of six customer-facing lines of business: Consumer, EE, Business and Public Sector, Global Services, Wholesale and Ventures, and Openreach.

For the year ended 31 March 2016, BT Group’s reported revenue was £19,042m with reported profit before taxation of £3,029m.

British Telecommunications plc (BT) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of BT Group plc and encompasses virtually all businesses and assets of the BT Group. BT Group plc is listed on stock exchanges in London and New York.

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