Funding for research into the Internet of Things will be doubled in a drive to make the UK a world leader in digital technology, David Cameron has said.
The Prime Minister announced an extra £45m to develop technology that uses the Internet to improve everyday devices – such as fridges that can order more milk when it runs low – as he arrived in Germany for the CeBIT 2014 trade fair yesterday.
He is attending the event in Hanover, of which Britain is the official "partner country", while he is in the country holding talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
"This is a world on fast forward. A world of permanent technological revolution," said Cameron, who is accompanied by a five-strong industry delegation. "And in this world, countries like the UK and Germany will only succeed if we have a relentless drive for new ideas and innovations."
Combining British ingenuity with German engineering would put the two countries at the forefront of a new technology-based "industrial revolution", he suggested.
He said: "I see the Internet of Things as a huge transformative development – a way of boosting productivity, of keeping us healthier, making transport more efficient, reducing energy needs, tackling climate change.
"These are developments that could allow literally billions of everyday objects to talk to each other over the Internet using low-cost, low-power chips.
"Electricity meters that talk to the grid to get you the best deals. Health monitors that keep an eye on your heart rate. Water pipes that warn of a fall in pressure. And yes, even a fridge that can order your milk if it sees it's getting low.
"We are on the brink of a new industrial revolution and I want us – the UK and Germany – to lead it. Take British ingenuity in software, services and design, add German excellence in engineering and industrial manufacturing and together we can lead in this new revolution."
Another £45m of taxpayer investment in Internet of Things-linked research will take the total being made available to £73m.
The government's chief scientific adviser is to carry out a review into how the new technologies can be best exploited, while two English universities – King's College, London, and Surrey – are to collaborate on developing the next generation ultra-fast 5G Internet connections.
As part of their discussions, Cameron also said he and Merkel had agreed to work together for the abolition of mobile roaming charges across the EU.
"We welcome the long-term ambition of the European Commission but we want to take steps that deliver benefits for businesses and consumers including complete elimination of mobile roaming charges," he said.