Enabling Technologies

Enabling Technologies are the foundation of today’s digital society; they include electronics, sensors, photonics, RF systems and computing.  Every market sector has increased use of technology to increase performance, extend capability and improve ease of use – from smartphones to medical diagnostics and industrial automation.

An example would be a car – modern cars contain 50 to 100 embedded computers using data from up to 100 sensors.  By 2030 it is expected that 50% of the cost of the car will be electronics and associated technologies.

Within the home we expect fast internet and great WiFi to connect our computers and run our connected devices – from light bulbs or heating thermostats to smart devices such as Alexa. Advances in photonics significantly improves the resolution and quality of TV pictures.

Within the manufacturing sector digitalisation is seen as the key driver for productivity improvement in the UK – automation and monitoring of equipment are built on enabling technologies.

The KTN Enabling Technologies team helps organisations interested in developing, or using, innovative technologies to access funding, expert knowledge and to form collaborations. If you are a business working on innovative products, services or processes we can help you take the next step by connecting you with the right funding, people and expertise. 

Our experts work with businesses of all sizes, from start-ups and spin-outs, to medium sized enterprises and multinational organisations. This includes organisations that are undertaking R&D to generate new, innovative products or services that help the UK economy or deliver social good.

Current focus

Electronics is the enabler of all things digital. It is the hardware and embedded software that allows products and processes to communicate, have power, have intelligence and awareness, be controlled, be automated and operate safely. It’s built into many sectors, including health, aerospace, manufacturing and retail.

Photonics is the science and technology of light. This includes lasers, optical systems and components, as well as fibre optics. Photonics is a £13.5bn industry in the UK. Photonics technology is used across various UK industries and in society, from optical communications and data storage to laser sensors for autonomous vehicles.

Sensor technologies create measurements and convert them into digital data. This data can then be analysed to inform decision making. What’s being measured could be chemical, bological, physical, mechanical or any other quantities such as chemicals, proteins, weight, dimensions and more.

Current Enabling Technologies funding opportunities

iX Challenge: Innovative approaches to data-driven asset management solutions

Opens: 01/08/2022 Closes: 09/09/2022

EQUANS is searching for innovators who are developing data-driven asset management solutions that can help digitise and decarbonise energy-consuming assets within buildings and industry, accelerating the zero carbon transition. Through the Clean Growth Innovation Fund, EQUANS is looking to make stra

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iX Challenge: Lightweight Energy Storage at Cold Temperatures

Opens: 01/08/2022 Closes: 23/09/2022

The focus of this Challenge, working with the NSTIx Operational Technology Co-Creation Centre and the British Antarctic Survey, is to develop a person-portable energy storage system (along with the associated charging/safety electronics) that can be recharged at a temperature as low as –40°C.

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iX Challenge: Novel Sensor Payloads for Asset Inspection Drones

Opens: 05/08/2022 Closes: 30/09/2022

The Innovation Exchange programme is working alongside Futureworx to find novel sensors and/or data processing techniques that can be deployed in scenarios offering relatively low Size-Weight-Power-Cooling (SWAPC) budgets. These will initially be aimed at demanding industrial environments, such as t

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iX Challenge: Magnetic Measurements for a Fusion Power Plant

Opens: 08/08/2022 Closes: 09/09/2022

UKAEA is searching for innovators who have expertise in magnetic measurement systems that can operate in harsh environments in a fusion reactor, accelerating the development of a prototype fusion reactor plant and the UK’s transition to net zero.

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iX Challenge: Waste Heat Measurement In Hot Process Flue (Exhaust) Stacks

Opens: 17/06/2022 Closes: 26/08/2022

This challenge seeks to identify technologies to measure and characterise hot waste heat streams without invasive installation/operation and do so with a high degree of confidence in the accuracy of the given measurement.

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Analysis for Innovators (A4I) Round 8

Opens: 01/08/2022 Closes: 31/08/2022

UK businesses can apply for a share of up to £3 million to resolve productivity and competitiveness issues by working with top scientists and research facilities. Projects can have costs of up to £120k.

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Related Events and Recordings


Engaging a Diverse Workforce for the Future (Driving the Electric Revolution)

15.00 - 17.00 | Online

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Photonics for...Manufacture

10.00 - 12.00 | Online

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Trusted Research for Industry Series – Emerging and Enabling, Complex Systems

12.00 - 13.30 | Online

Watch Now
See all events

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For general enquiries regarding our Enabling Technologies sector contact us now