Investment in technology was a catalyst to the progress of most Asian nations including Japan, South Korea and now China. They invested in microelectronics and got many U.S. companies to build billion dollar foundries there.
Asia is equally aware of the significance of embedded technologies for future economic growth and prosperity. Government-backed programs exist in Japan, Korea and China, each with its own flavor and emphasis . All these regional and national programs are driving towards the pervasive use of embedded devices in a multitude of applications across industries and large infrastructures, health and entertainment, fixed and mobile networks. Today, Asia continues to put resources in embedded systems with applications in many sectors.
As Asia was making progress, EU could not be outdone. The European industry projected to invest more than N22 billion per annum in embedded systems research and development by 2009 . This is almost double what it invested in 2003. Because of the importance of embedded systems technology for key industrial sectors (from industrial automation and medical equipment to automotive and avionics), the European Commission has devoted a specific part of its Information Society Technologies (IST) program to embedded systems research.
From 2003 to 2006 alone, it has invested ?140 million in collaborative projects between industry, academia and research centers (Kostas, 2006). These projects focus largely on systems design, safety- critical systems, embedded computing, middleware platforms, wireless sensor networks, and distributed and hybrid control systems. Embedded systems were also one of the six “pillars” of ICT research in the European Commission‘s proposals for the 7th Framework Programme, that started in 2007 .
In 2004, the Technology Platform ARTEMIS (Advanced Research and Technology for EMbedded Intelligence and Systems) was set up. ARTEMIS is an industry-led initiative to reinforce the EU’s position as a leading global player in the design, integration and supply of embedded systems.
The driving force behind ARTEMIS is the vision of a society where all systems, machines, and objects have become digital, communicating, self-managed resources. These transformations are possible through advances in embedded systems technologies and their large-scale deployment, not only in industry and services, but in all areas of human activity (Kostas, 2006). Such developments have a range of important consequences for society and the economy which include (Kostas, G., 2006):
(a) Life in our society and its safety and security will depend increasingly on embedded systems.
(b) The competitiveness of European industries, in almost all sectors, will rely on innovation capabilities in the area of embedded systems.
(c) Given the dramatically increasing importance of embedded systems to productivity growth, these technologies will be critically important in redressing the present imbalance in productivity growth between Europe, the US and Asia.
Maintaining a leading position in embedded systems technology will require significant investment in research and development that is focused on specific joint priorities. Africa needs to learn from these countries and begin the push to invest resources in embedded area. Universities must as a matter of policy be funded and private companies could be supported to develop and grow this vital industry that can help improve innovation in other area.