techUK has launched the report ‘Unlocking value across the UK’s digital twin ecosystem’ alongside the UK’s National Digital Twin programme. The report aims to drive consensus around the terminology used to describe digital twins, the principles of digital twin adoption, and the ‘systems-level’ prizes associated with digital twinning across the UK’s economy, environment, and society, to use digital twins technology at its full potential.

In the report, techUK describes a digital twin as:

“A relevant, virtual representation of the state and behaviour of something physical or non-physical with a functional output in the real-world.”

Building on this definition, the report outlines a series of recommendations for government and innovation bodies to level up innovation and investment in digital twins and full exploit the UK’s budding expertise in this technology:

Digital twins should be viewed as a means of dramatically enhancing the UK’s capacity to deliver on net zero 2050 objectives, addressing social inequality, and accelerating R&D-led growth

  • 10-year staggered programme of public investment (of £150 - £200 million) focused on digital twin innovation, adoption, and diffusion (and the take-up of current and near-to market technologies) which would come as part of a broader programme of investment that would also enhance the UK’s research, skills, infrastructure and core engineering capabilities
  • Government should trigger the adoption of digital twins across the UK by funding the development of an online digital twin procurement portal targeted at generalist decision-makers across industry, academia, and Government
  • Successfully following these recommendations would lead to an enhanced delivery capacity in reaching the UK’s Net Zero objectives, reducing social inequalities, and accelerating R&D growth.

Susanne Baker, techUK associate director for climate, environment and sustainability, said:

“Digital twins have the potential to support the UK to deliver on Net Zero 2050 objectives, support the reduction of social inequalities and drive R&D-led growth. However, the lack of consensus around how digital twins can be leveraged and why digital twins can drive better outcomes - for our people, economy, society and planet - means that the full benefits of this technology are yet to be realised.

“This report aims to set out strategic recommendations for industry and Government as to how the UK’s digital twin ecosystem can progress and evolve long-term, so that we can see and support this technological innovation to its full capacity.”