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Photo of Carol Fletcher
Photo of Carol Fletcher
Carol Fletcher
BT's Head of Academic and Research Partnerships
The future starts now - it's already driven by data, controlled by AIs and hyper-connected - so where do we go next?

This stuff matters - seriously. We're living connected, digital lives in a world that's been radically changed by our use of technology. Many of devices, applications and services we rely on today, and the technologies that underpin them, were inconceivable to previous generations. What happens next will be driven by the next generation of researchers coming out of universities. I need this new generation of research leaders to understand the ICT industry they will be inheriting - because they will be shaping our world from now on, and we all need them to get it right!

I run the Tommy Flowers Network (TFN) (formally the Tommy Flowers Institute) to bring together the ICT industry with the new generation of our universities' postgraduate researchers to understand the biggest challenges we're facing. For me, this is an incredibly exciting opportunity. Sure, so academics publish papers, companies serve customers, the government implements public policy - but if we pulled together, just imagine the amazing things we could do!

TFN is making this happen.

Let's get together and nurture the next generation of researchers, because this stuff matters - seriously.

The Tommy Flowers Network

The network aims to:

Delivering world-class ICT research in the future will require a new breed of researcher. We need researchers who can collaborate confidently across multiple academic disciplines - and work seamlessly between academia and industry.

That's why we in BT, along with our partners from across the ICT sector, have launched the Tommy Flowers Network. The network brings the ICT industry and UK academia together to produce the research leaders of the future. These researchers will be equipped to take on the complex challenges facing the ICT sector and help our nation to enrich its world-leading knowledge economy.

BT is a big company but we're not as big as the whole industry and that's why TFN isn't about any one company or any one university, it's about getting together for our common good. The whole thing is hosted at Adastral Park, for free, because this is the natural centre-of-gravity for industrial telecoms research in the country, so it's a no-brainer.

We have named the network after the GPO (General Post Office) engineer Tommy Flowers who worked on the code breaking machines at Bletchley Park during the war and built Colossus. It was an academic/industrial collaboration that delivered real impact: Cambridge graduate Bill Tutte deciphered the Lorenz code, Professor Max Newman saw the potential for mechanisation, and Tommy Flowers created the working machine. We are building on this legacy, developing researchers from all over the country, from both universities and industry to tackle contemporary challenges.

If you want to make the most from collaborative technological research and really understand the ICT industry's challenges then you need look no further than the Tommy Flowers Network. Join us and make amazing things happen.

"Healthy Longevity" conference - October 2019
Latest news from the Tommy Flowers Network
Tommy Flowers Network

A new decade a new name. The Tommy Flowers Institute is evolving!

We launched 4 years ago with the mission statement of 'bridging the gap between the ICT Industry and UK Academia to help produce research leaders of the future'. We're growing into a network of like-minded people and institutions working for a greater good. We want to build upon that and with your continued support we can continue to create something really special we can be amazingly proud of.

Now the 'Tommy Flowers Institute' will become 'Tommy Flowers Network'.

We're growing into a network of like-minded people and institutions working for a greater good. We want to build upon that and with your continued support create something really special we can be amazingly proud of.

We'll expand our remit to bring you Thought Leadership and other exciting events alongside our conferences.

Creating Value for Economies: Collaborate - Innovate - Educate

Our next conference explores the impact of the ecosystem that we are building. We will discuss existing success stories with academia and industry. Via a poster event, we will be celebrating our young researchers, positioning their work within this vibrant world of Technology and Innovation.

We will encourage collaboration throughout the conference with our young researchers, experienced strategists and successful entrepreneurs, by pushing new ideas, providing sound advice and sparking new innovations.

The conference takes place at Adastral Park, on 24th - 25th March 2020, with a dinner on the evening of Tuesday 24th. There are no fees to attend the conference - you just have to cover your own travel and accommodation costs. Please register for the conference.

Young researchers please submit your poster abstract by 14th February 2020. Any discipline (with an ICT angle), from industry or academia are eligible. Content can be previously published.

Successful event held on "Healthy Longevity"

A very successful Tommy Flowers Network Conference took place on the 15th - 16th October 2019 at Adastral Park, Ipswich.

Within the UK, it is expected there will be 16.9 million people aged 65 or over by 2035 accounting for almost one in four of the population. We are undergoing a fundamental change to our age structure, many people are having fewer children and living longer lives and as a result the average age of our society is on the increase.

This shift in structure isn't just isolated to the UK, reports indicate nearly half the world's nations have total fertility rates (TFR) below the replacement level of just over two children per women. By 2050 the world's TFR could potentially fall below replacement levels resulting in an older population demographic worldwide.

We were delighted to welcome so many of you to our 7th conference where we explored what is described as 'the UK's greatest societal opportunity'.

Over the course of two days we looked at how we can exploit and innovate to the maximum so we can adapt to this change in demographic. Subjects covered impacts to society, economy and work, mental health and wellbeing, fitness advances to keep us healthier for longer and technology that will allow us to live in our own homes longer.

Read the conference report to find out more...

How to join the Tommy Flowers Network
You can become a member of Tommy Flowers Network by signing up for TFN membership.

The membership for Tommy Flowers Network is free of charge and will enable you to receive the latest news and event notifications. We will treat your personal data with respect and you can stop receiving our updates at any time by sending an email to

Past conferences

The Tommy Flowers Network is a cross-industry initiative to develop ICT post-graduates to become better research leaders (both for industry and academia) by exposing them to industrialists and their real-world research challenges. We do this is with a conference series, pulling in over 120 attendees each time, including postgrads, academics, SMEs, vendors, BT, local and national government.

Videos of past conferences are available:

Healthy Longevity (2019)

Future of TV (2018)

Future Organisation (Spring 2017)

Conference briefings from previous events are linked below:

2018 Spring Conference - The Future of TV

2017 Autumn Conference - Security & Trust

2017 Summer Conference - Converged User Experience

2017 Spring Conference - Future Organisation - How to build agility and customer focus

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