Headlines: March 22nd, 2001

E-Minister Patricia Hewitt has announced a 70 million pound investment in electronic technologies to keep the UK at the forefront of the high-tech revolution.Proposals include 20 million pounds for pioneering work on “intelligent products” (next-wave technologies), 30 million for transforming business practices using technology; and 20 million for a national computing grid for UK scientists.

The investment is to pump prime the UK business and science base can lead the development of the next generation of electronic networks.

The first sum will be spent on a centre where Britain’s top researchers, manufacturers and marketing gurus will come together. Their work will ensure that the UK takes a lead role in moving computer and communications technology from beyond the PC, and into the majority of everyday gadgets.

“Next Wave” technologies will bring computer power washing machines which can read intelligent clothes labels before selecting a washing programme, and internet fridges which re-order groceries direct from the supermarket.

The market for these thinking machines, once developed for the mass market, could be worth up to a trillion dollars a year by 2005.

The biggest sum though – 30 million pounds – will be used to help push companies who have not yet made the leap to go online.