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Government reviews the potential benefits offered by emerging technologies

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Analysis and Insight, Horizon Scanning

The Government's Horizon Scanning Team is gearing up to produce a third review of technologies with the potential to boost UK productivity and improve public services.

The previous reviews in 2009 and 2012 threw up the likes of 3D printing, smart electricity grids and the Internet of Things as major opportunities for the country.

Some technologies from those earlier reports are now familiar to many (like cloud computing and big data). Others haven’t broken through yet (such as fusion).

As interest broadens, for example, from 3D to 4D printing – producing materials that can change over time – the pace of innovation demands that we take a fresh look at the technology landscape.

wireless sensor (HS TIF blog)
A wireless sensor signal microchip

We need to determine which technologies are progressing as predicted, which have stalled, and which are new and promising.

To compile this latest report – due out by the end of the year – the team, based in the Government Office for Science and the Cabinet Office, is crowd-sourcing views among industry and academic specialists.

We're identifying trends in patenting and publically-funded research linked to particular technologies.

We’re then holding expert roundtables in September to discuss our findings – including estimates of the future market value of various technologies – focused around such areas as synthetic biology, artificial intelligence and advanced materials.

Quantum sensing illustrates the sorts of opportunities we’re seeking to highlight and evaluate. It could, for example, deliver both private- and public-sector benefits by ensuring that councils and utility companies only dig holes in our roads where they’re absolutely needed. Unglamorous though it may be, this application – and there are many more – would save millions and cut down on traffic disruption.

Horizon scanning is all about anticipating change, minimising risk and being ready to adapt. It requires long-range thinking about infrastructure, regulation, skills and public perceptions.

Across the UK government, departments are busy exploring the advantages that emerging technologies might offer to both business and society – as well as the groundwork necessary to exploit them to the full.


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  1. Comment by Stuart posted on

    Dear Sir/Madam
    I am an Ex Royal Navy Communictions Specialist and since leaving I have worked for several multi national companies including Nestle Ukraine. I am currently looking into starting a new 3/4 D Printing business for children at a famous museum in Surrey. I have been granted permission by the board of directors and would like assistance in developing my project. The aim is not only for children to build 3D models but to explore the possibilities of intelligent material printing at one of the most historic sites in the UK. I have assisted a young boy in gaining a scholarship to Eton in 2016 and I believe the future of the form of printing will begin a change/revolution in the manufacturing industry. Look forward to hearing from you.
    Sincere Regards

    • Replies to Stuart>

      Comment by Anna Romaniuk posted on

      Hi Stuart,

      Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, we are not the right people to talk to about help with business ideas. There is plenty of help and support here. Good luck and thanks for your interest in emerging technologies!

  2. Comment by Stephaniw posted on

    Hello, Do you have a date yet for when the new emerging technologies report is likely to be published? Are you still aiming for December? Thanks very much

    • Replies to Stephaniw>

      Comment by tomannable posted on


      Thanks for your interest in the report. The final publication date is still to be confirmed, we'll get in touch with you once we know it.

  3. Comment by Stephanie posted on

    Thank you! Stephanie

    • Replies to Stephanie>

      Comment by Tom Annable posted on

      Hi Stephanie,

      An update for you. The report publication date is now likely to be in the New Year.


  4. Comment by Adele posted on

    Hi there

    Sounds like it'll be an interesting report! Are you guys any closer to publishing?

    Thanks 🙂

    • Replies to Adele>

      Comment by Anna Romaniuk posted on

      Hi Adele,

      Thank you for your interest. Unfortunately, we still don't know the publication date, but we'll update you as soon as we know more.

  5. Comment by Debby posted on


    I have been searching to see whether your report has been published yet but could not find it. Please can you let me know whether it is still in preparation or where I can find it.

    Many thanks

    • Replies to Debby>

      Comment by saoirsemallorie posted on

      Hi Debby,

      Thanks for your comment. The report has not yet been published, but we are working on confirming a publication date - when we have a date we will let you know.

  6. Comment by Ian posted on

    I am currently looking into Horizon Scanning within the Home Office, and would be interested in your proposed report (and also the methodologies used). Are you published yet?

    • Replies to Ian>

      Comment by saoirsemallorie posted on

      Hi Ian,

      Thanks for your interest in the blog. The report has not yet been published, but we are working on confirming a publication date - when we have a date we will let you know.

  7. Comment by saoirsemallorie posted on

    The Horizon Scanning report on technology and innovation futures has just been published by the Government Office for Science: