Investing today to invent tomorrow

Research and development are fundamental to us. Innovation is in our DNA.

Our world-leading research into AI, 5G mobile innovation, machine learning, Quantum Key Distribution, IoT, digital security, and the future of TV won’t just give us a competitive edge, it’ll potentially touch the lives of everyone on the planet.

We’re constantly building on the 4,900 patents in our portfolio, creating new products that quietly reverberate around the globe.

But sharp as our own scientists are, we know true innovation springs from brilliant people working together without barriers. And so we embrace collaboration with ingenious companies, academic institutions, government departments, and independent agencies from around the world.

We innovate for good.

Our research strategy

We work with around 200 partner organisations as part of our
Collaborative Research Programme. At any one time, we’ll be
involved with close to 20 projects covering anything from agile
quantum safe communications to the use of IoT and robotics in
smart agriculture.


Collaboration is an integral component of our research strategy. It means everyone involved in long-term research takes on less risk, allowing us to tackle bigger projects. It also gives us access to broader expertise, skills and resources, helping us build mutually beneficial external networks. And working closely with suppliers and customers goes a long way to helping agree common solutions and standards.

Circle of people having a discussion

Tech Fellowship

Our Tech Fellowship career development programme further enables this, bringing together diversity of thought, coupled with technical knowledge and skills from across BT Group, to enable us to remain at the forefront of technological innovation for both our customers and society as a whole

Current research areas

At any one time, our scientists and innovators are working in many different areas in pursuit of tomorrow’s technologies. Our main interests at the moment are:

Collaborative research programmes

Some of our research forms part of formal collaborative programmes, organised and funded by EU and UK funding bodies, including:

Research ecosystems

Innovation Martlesham

We’re not just passive believers in the power of collaboration: we actively make it happen.

Innovation Martlesham is an established cluster of over 150 high-tech ICT/digital companies located at Adastral Park, home to BT Labs. As home to a diverse range of companies, from large corporates to some of the most exciting, dynamic start-ups, Innovation Martlesham is a collaborative ecosystem for technology companies. 

All companies within the cluster retain their independence but many align with our strategies and goals. We build partnerships between them and various parts of BT, helping to realise and accelerate ideas for new technologies and business opportunities. 

Innovation Martlesham in action

With Innovation Martlesham partner Nevion we’re winning key broadcast business with BBC, ITV, and the Premier League.

With Innovation Martlesham partner Casa Systems we’re pioneering 5G across the country, including winner the ‘Best 5G new technology’ award at Broadband World Forum 2019.

With Innovation Martlesham partner Sightcall we’re reducing the number of non-technical engineer visits we make to our customers by around 700 a week.

Universities and global research centres

  • We want to get close to the latest developments in science, technology, business strategy, policy, and society, so we run a University Research Programme, which engages with leading research institutions around the world.

    In the UK we have relationships with around 30 universities and business schools, funding research and collaborating on MBA and student projects through the year.

  • Our global research centres give us amazing access to world-class facilities and talented researchers, as well as opening the doors to regional government funding:


    EBTIC is an ICT research and innovation centre in Abu Dhabi. It’s a driving force for innovation in the fields of Applied Intelligence and Intelligent ICT Systems, both within and beyond the Middle East.

    Established in 2009 by BT, Etisalat, and Khalifa University, the centre, supported by the UAE government’s ICT Fund, pioneers new technologies and gives us a great opportunity to showcase BT as an innovative company in the region.

    BT India Research Centre

    Launched in July 2019, in collaboration with BT Technology GDC and the prestigious, Bangalore-based Indian Institute of Science, the BT India Research Centre is our newest international research partner. Our Indian research programme also includes a set of collaborative projects with the Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology Delhi.

    BT Ireland Innovation Centre

    We established the BT Ireland Innovation Centre in 2017 in Belfast, Northern Ireland as a collaborative initiative between BT Applied Research, BT Technology GDC and Ulster University. It’s a 10-year research and innovation programme co-funded by BT, Ulster University, and the NI government

    BT MIT

    Massachusetts Institute of Technology is one of the world’s leading global centres for technology and innovation. Our 30-year partnership with MIT spans technical, management, and policy research.

  • We launched the Tommy Flowers Network to improve collaboration between the business and academic research communities. The TFN brings the ICT industry and UK academia together to produce and nurture the country’s research leaders of the future.

    The TFN isn’t about any one company or one university, it’s about getting together for our common good. We host the TFN at Adastral Park, for free. As the focus of industrial telecoms research in the UK, the decision to base TFN at Adastral was a no-brainer. (Unlike the people who work there, who are all very big brainers indeed.)

    Why Tommy Flowers?

    Tommy Flowers was an engineer for the General Post Office, the forerunner to BT.

    He worked at Bletchley Park during World War 2, where he designed and built Colossus, the world’s first programmable electronic computer, which helped solve encrypted German messages.

    This towering achievement was a superb example of an academic/industrial collaboration delivering a stunning impact: Cambridge graduate Bill Tutte deciphered the Lorenz code; Professor Max Newman saw the potential for mechanisation; and Tommy Flowers created the working machine.

    The Tommy Flowers Network is building on this legacy, developing researchers from all over the country, from both universities and industry, to tackle and solve contemporary challenges.