Wireless Sensor Network R&D Investment
to Top $1 Billion in 2012

SAN DIEGO, Calif., January 28, 2009 – Aligned with government’s top priorities, Wireless Sensor Networking (WSN) is attracting hundreds of millions of R&D funding in several recession-proof markets, according to a recent study by ON World.  Including both public and private sources, WSN R&D spending will reach $1.3 billion in 2012, up from $522 million in 2007. 

“With markets reeling, businesses and investors are relying on the public sector more than ever to set the priorities to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship that will lead to an economic recovery,” says Mareca Hatler, ON World’s research director. “By providing needed solutions for energy, the environment, and healthcare, WSN continues to be a one of the fastest growing research and development areas.”

Growth Markets

United States: Energy management is the number one driver for R&D investment on WSN technology in the United States.  While smart metering initiatives have received most of the media’s attention, there are several other related growth markets such as in-home energy management and renewable power generation that have the potential to save billions of dollars over the next decade.  The National Science Foundation has doubled its funding on WSN related research over the past five years and today, there are nearly 400 active WSN projects.  

European Union:  The EU’s funding on WSN related research and development has increased by 700% over the last five years.  Most of the impetus for this growth is the drive to develop technology solutions for remote patient monitoring and elderly home care.   The EU plans to spend more than $1 billion over the next five years in this area, called “Ambient Assisted Living.”

Other regions with significant WSN R&D initiatives include Australia, Canada, China, and South Korea that ON World covers in depth in its recently published report.

Technology Trends

ON World’s evaluation of nearly 400 active WSN related R&D projects found that while many are still focused on communications issues such as routing efficiency and network performance, nearly half are emphasizing software and services, and a quarter are developing end-to-end systems for real-world applications. 

Of the 102 funded WSN projects that involve end-to-end applications, the most commonly studied markets are environmental related (37%) and healthcare (30%), followed by public safety, transportation, structural monitoring, and industrial applications.

Top WSN Universities

Wireless sensor networking continues to be one of the most popular areas of study at the university level.  Out of the top 108 Technology and Science universities worldwide, ON World found that 87% have at least some type of WSN program or related projects currently underway.  Three of the United States’ largest WSN research centers have raised more than $200 million to date.

ON World’s report, “Wireless Sensor Networks: R&D Trends and Funding Opportunities,” provides an analysis of 350 active WSN projects, an investigation of over 100 universities and research centers worldwide, and an up-to-date review of the largest and fastest growing WSN markets.  It also includes the survey results with professors at top WSN universities that have provided a wealth of information about their current projects, technology focus, and perspectives on the challenges, innovation areas, and most impactful WSN markets over the next decade. 

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