What we do

::: industry-led research, innovation & application :::

VCE provides strategic research, innovation and application of ICT technologies to its industrial members - global communications companies, mid-size and SME ICT players and companies in application industries such as energy, health and transport. VCE is a member-owned, not-for-profit company, founded in 1996 as the Virtual Centre of Excellence in Mobile & Personal Communications Ltd (Mobile VCE).

Strategic Innovation – VCE’s Industrial Vision Group develops visions of how wireless ICT can evolve and be applied to transform society and business. By looking beyond their own company and its place in the value chain, industrial members are able to develop a more holistic strategy. These visions result in specific “Industry Challenge” R&D initiatives, and are continually renewed to keep pace with today’s rapid innovation in ICT.

Platform Research - Key enabling technologies, where VCE can make a real difference, are thus identified and new University research initiated, supported by Government and led by Industrial Steering Groups. Research is structured to deliver outputs-en-route, which are reviewed at quarterly Industrial Steering Group meetings. Members have explicit royalty free access to all IPR resulting from VCE-funded research.

Custom Projects – For commercial projects, member companies and Universities work together, bypassing VCE and establishing direct commercial arrangements. VCE is happy with this but can also assist, if requested, in selecting the appropriate University expertise.

Elective Projects – For pre-competitive work of wider interest, an individual company may approach VCE, to see if other companies may wish to co-sponsor a specific project. Typically 3-6 companies jointly define, fund and have access to the results of such ‘elective’ projects.

Application Projects – ICT today enables many industries. It will increasingly not only bring efficiencies but also change business models and enable new possibilities. Experimental projects and new applications in health, energy, transport, etc are possible within VCE’s collaborative and pre-competitive culture in a way that avoids being tied to a single-supplier or point solutions and can bring cross-industry, cross-discipline, creativity and innovation.

Technology Platforms – Emerging from VCE research, or from other funding routes, technology platforms are being made available by Universities for use by member companies, to trial and develop technologies, to optimise concepts, protocols and systems for various applications in different industries. These assets of the VCE community are enhanced as capabilities, technology and vision evolves.

International Thought Leadership – Industry Briefs describing the strategic relevance of research activities form a basis that triggers new in-company activities, or deeper engagement with individual Universities, in areas of company-specific opportunity. Industry members drive the creation of White Papers, and shape their message, which are fed into global industry fora, either directly or via VCE member companies.

International Links – VCE has a global perspective – it’s Board of Directors involves companies from five countries and three continents.  VCE has MoUs with key national R&D institutions including NICT (Yokosuka, Japan), WiCo (Shanghai, China) & the Wireless Innovation Forum (USA); it seeks to create more links for the benefit of its membership. These links have facilitated researcher secondments, high level international conferences and invitations to participate in national strategy workshops, as well as ensuring a global vision of technology and industry development.

Long Term Relationships – Relationships built with University Academics and Industry peers through participation in the quarterly Steering Group meetings provide a valuable source of advice, information or recommendation when new requirements arise in-house, perhaps not directly connected with VCE activities. Many past VCE researchers are today employed by member companies, some in senior roles, their recruitment based on personal knowledge.

Value Chain Development – Building upon its established open and collaborative culture and its traditional membership of global multi-$bn BigCos , VCE is widening its remit to link these companies with mid-sized ICT players, innovative SMEs and adjacent industries who wish to explore the potential of ICT to transform their activities.

A variety of opportunities and benefits are available to different players…

Today’s ICT industry is a global value web, not a simple value chain, with companies needing to research, develop, innovate, source and supply quickly and across borders. VCE’s BigCo members today buy not just products, but also technologies and companies; thus VCE is moving beyond simple R&D pullthrough to address wider needs.  In addition to strategic research...

  • BigCos share perspectives and develop pre-competitive industry visions, identifying R&D priorities, new business opportunities and sources of new technologies and products, with access to a wide range of leading academic talent and recruitment
  • Mid-sized and SME companies can share in access to the research, combining the outputs with their own knowhow and products to accelerate commercial solutions to the Industry Challenges identified in the Industry Visions activities
  • University capabilities can be made visible to both UK and international companies, leading to R&D contracts and opportunities for graduate recruitment, as well as deepening their understanding of industry’s needs and its pace of change 

VCE has helped the UK government to establish new organisations, such as the Digital Communications (now ICT) KTN and innovITS, and has led industry missions to, and hosted missions from, many countries, most notably (for the ICT sector) China, Korea, Japan and the US.

VCE enjoys a strategic partnership with EPSRC, works closely with the ICT KTN, has supported Ofcom’s spectrum advisory board, BIS and more.

VCE also has good links with Cambridge Wireless and Silicon SouthWest. These longstanding relationships have borne, and continue to bear, much fruit, for both VCE’s global industry membership, and for the local ICT R&D ecosystem – UK players, SMEs and inward investors.  

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