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Digital twins need '£150m funding over 10 years'

16 March 2021

There should be an interdisciplinary organisation to drive forward the adoption of digital twins in the UK, backed by £150m-plus of public sector investment over a 10-year cycle.

That’s the first of five key recommendations made by digital technology trade association TechUK in its recent report, Unlocking the value across the UK’s digital twin ecosystem.

TechUK proposes “10-year public investment of £150m-£200m focused on digital twin innovation, adoption and diffusion as part of a broader programme of investment that would enhance the UK’s research, skills, infrastructure and core engineering capabilities” coordinated by the Department of Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy and UK Research and Innovation.

The interdisciplinary coordinating organisation would bring diverse stakeholders together to support the “co-designing of inclusive, sector-level digital twin visions and adoption roadmaps”.

Common information requirements and capability gaps would need to be identified, incentives (via tax credits) provided for the “formation of multi-party agreements between diverse stakeholders and UK industry”, and guidance provided on how to develop and implement codes of conduct (around data use and risk, for example) via “supportive government frameworks”.

TechUK also proposes funding of £1.5m-£3m of funding for each digital twin demonstrator in the next four years. The demonstrator projects should highlight how value can be derived from digital twins and come from all sectors (net zero; built environment; public sector and public good; movement of people and goods; and productivity) with a minimum of two to three projects per sector.

The report notes that the demonstrators would enhance day-to-day operational decisions in the management, delivery and observation of public agencies and outsourced social services, with an emphasis on social housing, healthcare and childcare.

TechUK further recommends:

  • the development of an online digital twin procurement portal that would enable “generalist decision-makers to procure digital twins effectively;
  • the identification of the talent pipeline requirements and future demand for skills across the UK’s digital twin ecosystem; and
  • the short-term provision of £1.5m-£3m funding for a live strategic project to demonstrate how digital twins can enhance the UK’s leadership in delivering on net zero 2050 objectives.

The report concludes: “There is an incredible opportunity to use digital twins for good – and this report provides a reference point for those considering how digital twins can be adopted and why digital twins are critical to the UK’s future success.

“Looking to the future our hope is that this report will provide an accessible resource for a wide cross-section of society. People should feel empowered to build out their own adoption plans and roadmaps.

“In doing so, they will undoubtedly face hard questions – especially during the early phases of each unique digital twin journey. Yet those who do pose these critical questions and seek to provide answers will help to unlock value across the UK’s digital twin ecosystem, to the benefit of generations to come.”

Read the report: https://www.techuk.org/resource/techuk-launches-landmark-report-on-the-future-of-the-uk-s-digital-twin-ecosystem.html

The report should be read alongside the Centre for Digital Built Britain's digital twin business case toolkit:  https://www.bimplus.co.uk/news/digital-twin-business-case-toolkit-launched/

Image: 164104758 © Ekkasit919 | Dreamstime.com