Highlights from STEM 2022

As we kickstart a new year, we also want to take time to remember some of the exciting STEM highlights and innovative happenings from 2022 that have helped make the world a better place.  

Every day, talented STEM specialists and dynamic organisations impact people’s daily lives in endlessly positive ways. From digital transformation projects to tech advancements in cyber security, and from life-saving patient treatments to green energy infrastructure, there’s never a dull moment in the world of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Unsurprisingly, the tech revolution continues at pace across all sectors, with the increasing application of digital tools and platforms, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), and the internet of things (IoT). We look back at some of the highlights from last year:

  • The STEM Ambassadors Programme celebrated its 20th anniversary. This worthy initiative sees thousands of industry experts volunteer their time to visit classrooms and youth groups and provide young people with inspirational role models to encourage them into a rewarding STEM career pathway.

  • Vaccine developments continued to take centre stage, with almost 54 million people in the UK having received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine by autumn 2022. Among the many learnings from the pandemic is the potential for mRNA technology used in these vaccines to revolutionise treatments for other disease areas, such as cancer, dementia and heart disease. These innovations took a major step forward last year with the announcement of a new mRNA Innovation and Technology Centre in the UK. The research hub will focus on unlocking these breakthroughs to benefit NHS patients and people worldwide.

  • Innovative health tech developments are never in short supply and 2022 was no exception. In the NHS, this included everything from virtual reality-style headsets for nurses to free them from time-consuming admin tasks to smart watches for Parkinson’s patients that allow doctors to remotely assess their condition. A roll-out of other cutting-edge medical devices, diagnostics and digital products also began for all NHS hospitals across England. These include a portable digital chest drainage device to speed up recovery from heart and lung problems, and a surgical tool to treat enlarged prostates.


  • While the flashiest invention of 2022 has got to be BMW’s colour-changing car, young inventors set to change the world were also in the spotlight – with inventions ranging from 3D-printed knee replacements to a device that can recycle shower water for use in washing machines. Their creations were revealed in the Young Innovators Awards, run annually by the UK’s national innovation agency, Innovate UK.

  • The rise in hyperautomation continued to gain huge ground as it started to go mainstream in organisations of all sizes. It sees automation permeate most business processes and IT procedures through everything from robotic process automation (RPA) to other technologies such as AI and ML. Businesses are increasingly recognising the benefits of process automation to accelerate their digital capabilities and drive growth across all levels of their organisation.

  • Secure digital transformations across all industries rely on robust cybersecurity, and the biggest tech trends in 2022 ranged from developer-first security to cloud-native application protection platforms (CNAPP), and from managed detection and response (MDR) to hybrid data centres. Innovative new cybersecurity products and technology to keep today’s sophisticated cybercriminals at bay included a self-service cloud security platform that integrates threat detection and response and can be installed in minutes by teams with any level of security expertise, and an AI-powered platform that automates digital risk protection.

  • The UK Ministry of Defence acquired the UK government’s first quantum computer to explore ways in which the technology can be used to bolster the UK’s defence. Experts have said the true potential of quantum computers – which follow different rules to classical (aka binary) computers, exploiting the properties of quantum physics – will take time to fully materialise. But the investment is a major milestone for the UK. In future, this technology could revolutionise everything from chemical engineering to financial services.

  • Another software development to flourish in 2022 was digital twin technology – a virtual model that uses real-world data to create visualisations of how a product, process or project will perform. Its potential is huge because it can simulate everything from infrastructure to entire supply chain ecosystems. Virtual Bradford, a brick-by-brick digital twin of the city centre, was among the projects completed last year. The collaboration between the University of Bradford and the council is thought to be the first open-source 3D replica of a city in the UK and is designed to aid more sustainable city planning.

  • In the energy and climate action world, green hydrogen was in the picture, for the first time, as a key component in the transformation to clean energy. It was a major talking point during discussions at the UN Climate Change Global Innovation Hub during COP27. The United Nations says that green hydrogen, produced with help from renewable energy such as wind and solar power, is urgently needed to decarbonise heavy-polluting industries such as steel and cement and can be used in hydrogen fuel cells in trucks and cars.

  • Engineers behind the world’s longest subsea interconnector were recognised for their contribution to supporting net zero targets with the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Major Project Award for Sustainability 2022. The North Sea Link Interconnector Project (NSL), delivered in partnership with the National Grid and Statnett, allows renewable energy to flow between the UK and Norway for the first time. It should cut carbon emissions in the UK by around 23 million tonnes by 2030.

  • A collaboration between scientists from the UK and US made a “holy grail” breakthrough in nuclear fusion energy just in time for Christmas, with experiments producing more fusion energy than energy input. According to the UK Research and Innovation organisation, fusion energy has the potential to provide a near-limitless, clean source of carbon-free energy.

This year, SThree has helped 2,663 specialist contractors find exciting opportunities within the STEM sector and supported 484 skilled permanent candidates with the next step in their careers.


To find your next role or for help recruiting the best talent for your needs, talk to us today.

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