A NEW programme from a Scottish innovation centre will help 16 businesses transform through the "Internet of Things" (IoT).

CENSIS, Scotland’s innovation centre for sensing, imaging and IoT technologies, will help 16 small and medium-sized firms in the Highlands and Islands with the development or adoption of IoT products or services.

The "IoT Evolve" programme is funded by the Scottish Government and Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and focusses on areas of economic importance to the Highlands and Islands, such as renewable energy, manufacturing, food and drink, tourism and health and wellness.

IoT is the term used to describe physical objects that are equipped with sensors, data processors and software that can connect with other devices via the internet.

It is becoming more prevalent nowadays as the concept of "smart homes" becomes reality, where central heating systems, domestic appliances, smart speakers and security systems can be controlled online from smartphones.

There are privacy risks associated with personal data – users’ domestic routines, for example, are stored and transfer via the internet.

The IoT is currently used in Scotland to monitor, among other things, river levels for signs of flooding, damp in social housing, and the health and wellbeing of livestock.

Backing the scheme, Finance Secretary Kate Forbes said: “This programme will help SMEs in the region realise the benefits Internet of Things has to offer around improvements to efficiency and productivity, helping them become more competitive and enabling progress towards net zero as part of our national strategy to transform the economy.”

Alistair Longmuir, business development manager at CENSIS, has stressed that many companies are still unsure of how to benefit from the IoT.

He said: “More companies should discover the business benefits IoT can deliver. The IoT Evolve programme is about helping companies explore how they might become more productive, efficient, sustainable and competitive through the use of digital technology, helping the Scottish ecosystem to become more connected.”

"We are looking forward to assisting more businesses to take the next steps towards IoT adoption, whatever their experience level with the technology.”

John MacKenzie, senior development manager for innovation at Highlands and Islands Enterprise, said: “I am delighted that through support from the Scottish Government we have been able to launch IoT Evolve in the region.”

“This programme will help support organisations to understand what IoT is all about and take advantage and raise awareness of the potential IoT can bring to the region.”

There are three strands to the programme that focus on the commercial impact, carbon footprint reduction and research into how global trends in IoT might benefit the Highland and Islands economy.

Firms that are interested in applying to the programme can do so at: https://censis.org.uk/access-our-services/services-and-facilities/iot-evolve/