January saw the launch of an exciting new pre-accelerator programme, IoT Engine, which will provide at least 12 hours of support for start-ups and SMEs in South Yorkshire to adopt or develop IoT technologies. The programme is fully funded by ERDF, Connexin, Capital Enterprise and Barnsley Council, and is based at the brand-new MakerLab at Barnsley’s DMC 02. With the expert support of Dr Rikki Coles, participants will receive 1:1 mentoring, hands-on validation and proof-of-concept support, as well as workshops and networking events with leaders in the industry.
One month in and the programme is well and truly open for business! We have already received 8 applications from companies across South Yorkshire, many of whom are now beginning to receive a variety of support. From creating working prototypes to helping increase confidence in IoT technologies and from supporting businesses move into IoT, to assisting with recruitment to expand existing companies, we are already working on a wide range of exciting and innovative projects.
Each month we will shine a spotlight on some of the amazing companies we are working with, and highlight how their time on the programme has been of benefit to their business. However, this month we are speaking with the programme’s Senior Technical Lead, Dr Rikki Coles, about all things IoT, including his motivations and aims for the IoT pre-accelerator.
What is your background in the industry?
My background is primarily research based – I’ve come from academic research in Physics and developed my technical abilities further via translation research at the AMRC in Sheffield. I have designed and delivered lots of innovative and pragmatic solutions which demonstrate the benefits of IoT and Industry 4.0 to the high value manufacturing sector, working with everyone from local SMEs to large aerospace manufacturers like Rolls Royce and Airbus. My main areas of expertise are in electronics and software engineering, sensing, analytics, and AI.
What are you most excited about working on through the IoT Engine?
A topic particularly close to my heart, and I hope close to the hearts of others, is climate change. IoT can help to provide the information necessary to take corrective measures for sustainability, so If I can be part of something that helps to reduce demand, wastage, and emissions then that is most important to me.
Why is the programme important to you?
I have always been a keen problem solver and nurture my creative side where I can. This program is therefore a perfect opportunity for me to exercise these skills, but with a tangible and pragmatic purpose of catalysing or inspiring others to achieve their ambitions. Working with SMEs and entrepreneurs is always great fun as there is so much energy, enthusiasm, and optimism and it’s really infectious. Combine this with the fact that it’s in my home county and there is a great sense of pride too.
What do you hope to achieve through the programme?
It may sound counter-productive, but in an ideal world I want my role not to exist because IoT should not be something esoteric. If I can help to promote a self-perpetuating and collaborative IoT ecosystem around the South Yorkshire region (and beyond, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves!) then I couldn’t wish to achieve anything further from the programme.
We have lots of exciting things coming up for the programme, including networking events and seminars for those interested in the IoT community. To find out more, or register your interest, visit: IoT Engine | TEAM SY (weareteamsy.org)
Lauren, Rikki and the IoT Engine team.