Howard Watson

Chief Technology Officer, BT Group

At BT, we can trace our roots back to the very first communications company, the Electric Telegraph Company, founded in 1846.

I’m proud that for more than 170 years, technologies pioneered by BT have truly built the modern world, and in that time, we’ve never stopped innovating.

In 1984 our research team at Adastral Park perfected the use of single mode optical fibre. Today this technology plays a role at the heart of all global networks, including our own – a network that reaches customers in more than 180 countries.

BT’s global presence means that we innovate globally too. Our worldwide scouting network, combined with strong relationships with leading universities, allows us to find the best innovations from across the globe, blend them with our own capabilities and in-house research, and create new possibilities for our customers. We then work hand-in-hand with them to develop the right solutions for their business, wherever in the world they operate.

BT’s own world-leading research into optical fibre and next-generation broadband, 5G mobile technologies, Artificial Intelligence, Security, and the future of TV, enables us to develop the cutting-edge solutions that keep the UK, and our global customers, ahead of the competition. We’re constantly building on our 4,900-strong patent portfolio, helping us to create exciting new products and to deliver the excellent service levels that our customers expect.

Our continued focus on research and innovation is enabling us to connect people, businesses and communities in ways not previously possible. This is what makes our work together so important. It’s why I’m proud to work for BT.

Our global network reaches customers in

180 countries

Each year Adastral Park hosts over


non-BT visitors


in our patent portfolio


of our researchers have PhDs and 17 are visiting professors or university fellows


patents filed since 1990

£2.5 billion

invested in R&D over the last five years

We partner with 40 universities and around 150 companies


inventions filed in 2016/17

3rd highest

investor in R&D in the UK over the past ten years

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