Do you work in Electronics, ICT, Sensors or Photonics? If you do, then we are the Community for you.

What about Systems Engineering, Autonomous Systems, Embedded Software, Instrumentation, Mechatronics ….? That's us too!

The ESP Comunity spans the underpinning technical domains that are so impactful in all of the application domains, but which can become invisible owing to their very ubiquity.

The UK is rich in World-leading IP in all of these areas, and we are really connected across the landscape from academia to industry, large and small.

This Community excitingly builds on the momentum of 5 previous KTNs, and with over 10,000 members we're ready to take the activity into the challenge-led future.

The ESP Community is committed to reaching into new networks to make the best use of the knowledge in our sector, and find fresh contacts and routes for partnerships. We also foresee that our extensive reach will be useful to academics who will be increasingly required to show the potential impact of their research, and thus the ESP Community will be improving its connections to the universities and Research Councils.

What do we do exactly?

The ESP Community is not a trade association, nor is it a generator of content and IP— it is:

  • An outward looking face for, and point of access to, the Electronics, Sensors and Photonics community of industries, academia and entrepreneurs;
  • An enduring, highly networked community that believes and demonstrates that it has a lot to offer the UK in innovation, wealth creation and improved well being;
  • A robust, recognised and influential voice of the community into Central Government & Devolved Administrations, Technology Strategy Board, Research Councils, RDAs: and whatever other organisations are usefully engaged;
  • An organisation that recognises the imperative of responding to current societal and economic challenges but with the ability to promote Technology Inspired Innovation as a vital part of its portfolio;
  • A respected, transparent, open and welcoming organisation with high ethical standards;
  • A community where sharing knowledge is a natural behaviour—for mutual and wider benefit;
  • An integral part of a network of networks with embedded skills in connectivity;
  • An organisation with a solutions focus and a fresh approach to creating and measuring impact.

The three key knowledge centres for ESP are:

Electronics Knowledge Centre (EKC)


The technologies associated with the design and deployment of electronic products and systems are at the heart of every solution to which we can apply technology. These opportunities range from solutions for early clinical diagnosis, to solutions for the cost burdens of an ageing population—to solving the energy equation that will reduce our carbon footprint.

The UK is already a market leader for several technologies across the electronics sector, including microelectronic design at the device level; pioneering the fabless chip model with companies such as ARM, CSR and Wolfson; for the development of high frequency components and devices, developed from novel semi-conductor compounds giving rise to leading companies such as Teraview. Working with industry, leading academic research institutes including INEX, Cambridge and Manchester Universities; are leading the way in other breakthrough technologies including the development of femto-cells with picochip.

The UK has a strong electronic design community of over 8000 companies, with the capacity to design, develop, integrate and deploy electronic systems into global innovative products and services. The EKC brings a membership of over 5,200, and has identified over £6M of contracts or funding as a direct result of its activities since February 2007.

The global value of the electronics sector exceeds £600Bn, and the UK is well placed to build on unique capabilities in emerging markets such as RFID, robotics and embedded systems and THz systems.

Sensors & Instrumentation Knowledge Centre (SIKC)

Sensors and Instrumentation

The Sensors & Instrumentation Knowledge Centre builds on support for UK sensing innovation reaching back over 10 years. SIKC looks at sensing in its entirety, from the principles of measurement and novel sensor technologies through to instrumentation, deployment and data analysis.

The importance of the sensing and instrumentation market cannot be overstated[1]. The world sensors and instrumentation markets (£50Bn and £124Bn respectively) underpin over £1.5T of products and services. Technical and cost advances combined with regulatory drivers mean that sensors are being used in ever-greater numbers. The UK punches significantly above its weight, with a £3Bn share of sensors and £7.5Bn share of the instrumentation business, which in turn underpins £120Bn worth of products and services in the UK (despite the fragmented supply chains and foreign ownership of larger companies).  The world sensors market is forecast to grow at an annual rate of 7.5%[2] even during the global economic downturn.

The SIKC brings a community of over 2,900 members including SME technology companies, large company end-users, academics and entrepreneurs, and will build on a successful programme of activities resulting in over £62m of funding secured for members to support research and development activity from November 2005 to August 2009.

Photonics & Plastic Electronics Knowledge Centre (PPEKC)

Photonics and Plastic Electronics

The PPE Knowledge Centre unites the work of the Photonics and Displays & Lighting Communities, including lasers, photo-voltaics, communications, ultra-efficient lighting, displays and the new and exciting plastic electronics industry.

The global photonics enabled product and component market is anticipated to have strong and steady growth over the next decade with revenues surpassing £720Bn by 2017 and a compound annual growth rate of 7.7%. Global market revenues in 2009 are estimated to be £270Bn, of which Europe represents 19%. Key growth areas in the global market are solar cells, industrial processing lasers, optical communications equipment and components, Biophotonics, ultra-efficient lighting and liquid crystal displays.

The worldwide market for plastic electronics is estimated to grow from £7Bn, in 2009, to £30Bn by 2017 and could be £200Bn by 2027.

PPEKC brings the expertise and innovative capacity of a community numbering 2,500 members comprising SMEs (92%), large companies, multinationals and universities, and will build on the activities of the predecessor KTNs that have enabled the PPE community to access over £70m of funding for innovation.

[1] Electronics, Photonics and Electrical Systems Key Technology Area strategy 2008-2011, Technology Strategy Board pg. 43.

[2] Frost & Sullivan: World sensors and Instruments Report, February 2009