PETRAS Year in Review 2021


The PETRAS National Centre of Excellence for IoT Systems Cybersecurity has had a busy year with a multitude of online events, new research projects, and publications from our researchers and partners from across the UK. Here we present a year in review summary of the Centre’s highlights in 2021.

PETRAS announced 34 new research projects in 2021, which were funded through three funding calls, to tackle cybersecurity at the edge of the internet. More specifically, through the SRF2 national funding call PETRAS awarded £3.6 M for 18 new research projects to research institutes across the UK. In addition, PETRAS announced 16 research projects funded through the PETRAS Opportunities Fund Call, while the Centre has also invited 6-month project proposals with total funds available up to £475k, as part of the Internal Strategic Projects and Engagement Fund (ISPEF).  The successful ISPEF applicants have been informed and we will announce the new projects in the new year. Both the Opportunities Fund and ISPEF funding calls were ‘internal’ and open to eligible academics who are part of the 22 research institutions consortium, while the SRF2 was an open national funding call for UK research institutes.

During the year, the Centre ran two public events as part of the SDTaP programme: the PETRAS Securing the Future event series in June and November 2021. Each event created a space for over 100 attendees from the research community and new and existing partners to discuss pressing topics relating to securing edge technologies. Highlights from November’s event included knowledge exchange between academia, industry and government, panel discussions relating to cybersecurity of IoT for industry and the challenges of agile resilience in urban environments. In addition, dynamic networking sessions were held in themed discussion spaces, including a Digital Health Networking Session which hosted a presentation from Wim Kees Janssen from Syntho, as well as one-to-one meetings. Moreover, the PETRAS Securing the Future event in November provided an online space for poster presentations by PETRAS research teams and their research ‘User Partners’. The projects’ User Partners in attendance included Toshiba, KnowNow, Immuta, Schneider Electric, STMicroelectronics, Tate, Victoria & Albert Museum, Forescout, and Lancaster City Council.

As our community continues to grow, the Centre has recently introduced the online PETRAS Community Development Programme sessions, hosted by Dr Claire Coulton, each of which is focused on a different research topic. So far, the following three Community Development events have taken place:

  • PETRAS DSF Workshop, 25th October 2021
  • Joint event with SPRITE+ network on working with industry partners, 3rd November 2021
  • Lightweight AI in low-power IoT security:  A joint PETRAS-SWAN event to share research and build understanding across networks, 8th December 2021

During the New Year of 2022, we will be delighted to welcome three BBC Speakers to our Community Development sessions to discuss past and current research interests where PETRAS has been a partner, and other research that intersects with PETRAS’ socio-technical research themes. The BBC has been a long-time partner of PETRAS on a number of projects from its inception in 2016. This work stems from the “BBC’s Royal Charter and agreement with the UK government to provide “a centre of excellence” for research and development in broadcasting and the electronic distribution of audio, visual and audiovisual material”.

In the lead up to COP26 in Glasgow in November 2021, PETRAS created At the Edge’, a 6-episode podcast series to address the role that IoT, edge computing and cybersecurity may play in achieving Net Zero. Each episode addressed a different theme on the conference agenda and comprise of a lively and engaging discussion among experts from across academia, industry and government. The podcast focused on sharing stories, understanding the challenges experienced “on the ground”, and discussing how the UK’s research excellence can help develop practical and effective solutions in regard to climate change.

During 2021, PETRAS released five Industry Briefings and hosted four online Industry Discussions for the sectors of AgriTech, Transport & Mobility, Ambient Environments, and Infrastructure. Each of these discussions included a Fireside Chat between each sector lead and experts from academia and industry.

Additionally, the team launched a report by The Business of Cities, titled “IoT and Cities in a Post Covid World”, that addresses the role of Internet of Things (IoT) as a management tool and an innovation driver in cities, and the AI and Journalism Briefing, which gives an overview of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in journalism and focuses on AI applications in the news production process.

Other events and projects launched by PETRAS in 2021 include a masterclass with Dr Lucy Mason focused on career pathways in the field of cybersecurity and IoT, a creative workshop titled “What on Earth is the Internet?” and the participation of the Edge of Tomorrow at the ESRC Festival of Social Science 2021 in Lancaster.

As a Centre, we look forward to 2022 and we are excited to keep you updated with the latest news from the PETRAS team. We wish everyone a happy new year!