13 Sep 2022

The Apollo Protocol calls for common language across digital twins

techUK has partnered with several leading institutions to drive forward digital twin interoperability

The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), along with other leading organisations in the manufacturing, tech and built environment sectors, including techUK, have published a paper calling for a common language across digital twins – which currently doesn’t exist and means sectors are working in silos.

The paper sets out how this could be rectified with the creation of a new forum, which will develop solutions and cross-sector learning and write the protocol for cross sector digital twins.   

Currently, the manufacturing and built environment sectors are developing digital twins separately using different language and business models, yet many of our challenges, such as net zero, require them to work together.

The paper, The Apollo Protocol, details the need for a common framework for developing digital twins so that each sector can unlock their potential. This will be delivered by a new Apollo Forum which will explore four key themes that the manufacturing and built environment sectors share, developing solutions and encouraging cross-sector learning.

Rick Hartwig, IET Built Environment Lead, said: “Digital Twins offer huge benefits for society but only a coordinated approach to the language used will allow those benefits to be realised.

“There are many steps to improving information management, for example, from the manufacturers and their product information and frameworks to technology companies producing in the Digital Twin space who need the availability of data to construct models.

“It goes much further than just the manufacturing, built environment and technology industries – policy makers will only meet their sustainability goals if they can provide clarity during procurement for the market to respond effectively, so it will take a whole system approach.”

This work represents the combined efforts of the IET, The Construction Leadership Council (CLC), The University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC), The High Value Manufacturing (HVM) Catapult, the Centre for Digital Built Britain (CDBB), The Construction Innovation Hub, The Digital Twin Hub, TechUK and the Alan Turing Institute. The project has the support of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).  

To find out more information and to download the White Paper please visit www.theiet.org/Apollo-Protocol or contact [email protected].

Download the Report here


Supporting the call for the Apollo Protocol and Forum includes:

Dame Wendy Hall FRS FREng Regius Professor of Computer Science University of Southampton, said: “Developing and operating infrastructure digital twins is essential for improved decision making. By ensuring cross- sectoral quality information is available, greater value can be achieved for asset operation and wider citizen services. The Apollo Protocol articulates how silos can be broken down to deliver this vision.”

Jacqueline de Rojas CBE, Outgoing President, techUK, said: “Digital skills are growing in importance and shrinking in abundance, with co-dependent industries often competing for the same talent. The Apollo Protocol is a paper which encourages constructive dialogue between adjacent sectors, scanning the horizon for future trends in digital engineering and developing new professions to build the future workforce. It is a natural evolution of our long-standing work in digital skills and diversity.”

Professor Rab Scott, Chief Engineer – Digital, High Value Manufacturing Catapult, said: “Since 2016, Google web searches for the topic “digital twins” has multiplied by a factor of 25. But therein lies the problem. As more sectors adopt them, a greater need for a common language arises. The Apollo Protocol will break down this semantic barrier through thematic cross-sectoral engagement.”

Neil Thompson FIET, Director at Atkins, Digital Manufacturing and Performance Lead, Construction Leadership Council, Built Environment Panel Chair said: “Our engineering disciplines are fragmented within and between sectors. The Apollo Protocol is an opportunity for a ‘great unification’ of engineering where will see the coming together of engineering disciplines under a common purpose to design high performing system of systems and enable a truly circular and sustainable built environment.”

Austin Cook - Principal Technologist in Emerging Technologies & Systems - BAE Systems said: “The development and adoption of digital twins, enabled by connected systems and driven by good known data to gain greater insights is already underway in manufacturing. However, as products move out of manufacturing and into the operation phase, the interoperability between twins becomes paramount. The Apollo Protocol enables a major step towards achieving this.”

About the IET

  • We inspire, inform and influence the global engineering community to engineer a better world.
  • We are a diverse home for engineering and technology intelligence throughout the world. This breadth and depth means we are uniquely placed to help the sector progress society.
  • We want to build the profile of engineering and technology to change outdated perceptions and tackle the skills gap. This includes encouraging more women to become engineers and growing the number of engineering apprentices.
  • Interview opportunities are available with our spokespeople from a range of engineering and technology disciplines including cyber-security, energy, engineering skills, innovation, manufacturing, technology, transport and diversity in engineering.
  • For more information, visit theiet.org
  • Follow the IET on Twitter.
Teodora Kaneva

Teodora Kaneva

Head of Smart Infrastructure and Systems, techUK

Teodora’s rich background varies from working in business development for a renewable energy lobbying association in Brussels to the fast moving technology innovation startup scene in the UK.

She has designed the market strategy for a German renewable energy engineering scale up for the UK, listed on Nasdaq private market, and now one of the fastest growing scale ups in the world. Previous experience also includes managing a renewable energy startup in London, which has built a small-scale biomass CHP power plant. Teodora is passionate about cross-industry collaboration and working together with academia to inform the design of future educational models and skill building.

Most recently Teodora has ran the commercial activities and business development at Future Cities Catapult, focusing on innovation in cities, digital health and wellbeing, mobility, and infrastructure. Teodora is a passionate STEM Ambassador and a vocal advocate for women in tech.

[email protected]
020 7331 2016

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Adam Young

Adam Young

Programme Manager, Environment, techUK

Adam joined techUK in September 2021 working in the Climate, Environment & Sustainability Team. 

Adam has a Masters in Climate Change: Science, Environment and Policy from King's College London, as well as a Batchelor's degree in Wildlife Conservation from the University of Kent. 

The Environment Programme encompasses many different areas of the tech market and policy sphere. Climate change is the highest policy priority for the programme, with ethical resourcing, supply chain due diligence, build environment digitalisation and economic circularity becoming increasingly prominent in the programmes activities.

Before working at techUK Adam worked in the NHS. His interest in nature and conservation led him to going on several conservation projects abroad including Peru and Fiji, working with caiman and tropical fish. When Adam is not saving the planet, he is either playing music, at the gym or playing cricket in the summer.

[email protected]

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