Year in Review Banner 2016.png

As one of the resident content specialists at element14, it’s been my job to take charge of two key areas of the community throughout 2016 – Business of Engineering and STEM Academy. Here are some of our favourite features and projects from the past 12 months...


Business of Engineering: Startup Case Studies

The Things Network Farnell


Business of Engineering is the area where we shine a light on the startups and engineering innovations that are helping to push the industry forwards.  We’re proud to be part of a company that supports a wide variety of smaller businesses and enterprises, particularly those working in IoT and electrical engineering.


From production and manufacturing to distribution and technical support, Farnell element14 and our subsidiary companies have been able to use our unique position within the industry to help a number of exciting innovations to move from the development phase onto the global market – and element14 has been on hand to cover them every step of the way.


These innovations have included The Things Network – a Dutch company using LoRaWAN technology to create a global public IoT data network, allowing devices to communicate without the need for 3G or Wi-Fi.  The Things Network announced a partnership with Farnell element14 in November 2016, for the manufacture, marketing and distribution of its gateways and nodes.


We also featured Pi Supply, a Raspberry Pi emporium that combines existing Raspberry Pi technology with specially developed accessories from their in-house research and development team – including the Pi Supply Switch and the Pi Juice Portable Project Platform.


Portability was also a key consideration for nScope, a US-based initiative developing portable lab software for teaching electronics outside the traditional lab environment. The brainchild of two teaching assistants from Northwestern University, nScope is now being expanded into a full curriculum of learning resources for students of electronics and electrical engineering.


Last but not least, Norwegian Startup Future Home had a big 2016 with their Smart Hub Gateway for remotely controlling, monitoring and automating a wide variety of smart devices through a single user-friendly app.  Having already experienced a successful domestic launch, after being featured in our community, Future Home went from strength to strength, and are currently finalising a number of major distribution deals and partnership opportunities that we look forward to covering in the new year.


STEM Academy: BBC micro:bit

BBC micro:bit

One of the most exciting projects Farnell element14 has been involved in throughout 2016 has been the launch of the BBC micro:bit. Working alongside the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and a number of major global partner corporations, we helped to distribute over 1 million BBC micro:bit devices to UK school children, free of charge.


Billed as the BBC’s most ambitious education initiative in thirty years, the BBC micro:bit is a pocket sized, ARM-based codeable computer featuring motion detection, a built-in compass, Bluetooth technology and a host of additional features aimed at helping UK students to get to grips with the fundamentals of coding and digital creativity.


A total of 29 partners were involved in bringing the BBC micro:bit project to fruition, including major brands from across the industry, including Microsoft, Nordic Semiconductor, NXP, ARM holdings and more.


Operating on a not-for-profit basis, Premier Farnell was closely involved with design optimisation, manufacturing and logistics for the project, in addition to helping to ensure that the device could be manufactured at a sustainable cost without sacrificing accessibility for the target market. With further global rollout for the device well underway for 2017 and beyond, it is hoped that the BBC micro:bit will ultimately evolve into a powerful global brand to complement and stand alongside current market leaders such as Raspberry Pi and Beagle Bone Black.


Over on the element14 STEM Academy we now have a dedicated content space for BBC micro:bit projects and initiatives. We’ve already sent out devices to several of our top members, who have been testing the BBC micro:bit’s capabilities with a number of creative projects. We look forward to even more exciting developments with this initiative in the New Year, so watch this space!


To stay up to date with all of our latest projects and initiatives, be sure to follow the STEM Academy and Business of Engineering content spaces for regular updates and opportunities to participate in product road tests and design challenges.