Digital Single Market
Digital Economy & Society

Embedded Systems

Embedded systems (ES) are electronic products, equipment or more complex systems containing computing devices and special software that are not externally visible and generally inaccessible by the user.

Embedded systems are a driver of innovation and growth in many key sectors of the European industry. In particular, ES have a proven positive impact in the following application sectors:

  • Automotive;
  • Avionics/ Aerospace;
  • Industrial Automation;
  • Transport, water, environmental protection;
  • Health and Medical Equipment;
  • Energy consumption point (home/building) technology;
  • Communications;
  • Consumer Electronics;
  • Energy.

Embedded systems accounted for almost 852 billion euros of value in 2010. The overall industry is growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12% throughout the forecast period and should reach 1,5 trillion euros in revenue by 2015. This is growing not only at a faster pace than traditional IT spending but also more than 1.5 times faster than the overall semiconductor industry. Europe benefits from strong Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) based on Automotive and Aerospace & Defense sectors, but also from smaller markets such as Electricity/Gas/Water utilities, and Energy Equipment.

The 2020 scenario for ES is being defined today by the migration to more intelligent systems across the traditional ES marketplace. The following list reflects the required characteristics for its evolution:

  • Political & legal: security, safety, regulation, certification;
  • User needs: human machine interface, seamless connection/interoperability;
  • Economic: distributed architecture management & autonomy of systems;
  • Technological: multi-core processors & virtualization software, and energy management of small devices.

In order to address the current challenges in ES and to raise awareness for future ones, there are numerous EU-funded research and innovation activities in the specific domain:


If you would like to find more information, please check "Final Study Report: Design of Future Embedded Systems (SMART 2009/0063)" . The study  was carried out in 2011 by IDC on behalf of European Commission DG CNECT .The scope of this study was to analyze the evolution of the Embedded Systems design (ESD) field toward Systems of Systems (SoS), with a specific focus on the industry viewpoint and the emerging opportunities to improve European competitiveness by identifying the main scientific and research challenges.

Last updated on 02/07/2015 - 09:46


Marta Anna Bulik's picture
Marta Anna BULIK
Have you ever thought about your safety riding through a long tunnel, a road next to a very steep slope or strolling through ancient temples? If so, we have good news for you. Thanks to a collaborative research effort in the EU-funded GENESI project, the monitoring of the "health" of structures such as bridges, dams, tunnels or any buildings has become more affordable and reliable.
Marta Anna Bulik's picture
Marta Anna BULIK
When we are in the car, plane or train we are normally too busy to wonder how they work. We cannot imagine that many aspects of our everyday life, like different means of transport or factory plants, health and energy facilities are actually made possible by the integration of electronic equipment called embedded systems.
Jan Broenink's picture
Modern equipment (cars, airplanes, wafer steppers, automatic baggage handling) is nowadays highly computerized. While designing these, one needs deep knowledge of computer programming and how the machine itself behaves, i.e. the physical behaviour. These two sources of knowledge are quite different, and it is not easy to bring them together. This is a big obstacle in development of trustworthy systems.
Theodorus Denteneer's picture
Smart solutions for green buildings, eco-innovative technologies with focus on the user comfort and adaptation- all of these are nowadays challenges in the area of building automation and control system. Seamless collaboration of building systems such as blinding, lighting and HVAC-heating, ventilation, and air conditioning -adapting to season, time of day and building occupation, hold the promise of increased energy efficiency and improved user comfort and safety.
Andreas Eckel's picture
Andreas ECKEL
Ground-breaking safety-relevant technology used in safety-relevant data communication has successfully been developed within European Union (EU) funded research projects. Applications range from controls for airplanes, latest generation premium passenger cars, up to industrial equipment such as control for off-shore wind power turbines and many others.
Cristina Silvano's picture
Cristina SILVANO
Embedded computing touches every aspect of our lives: domestic appliances, mobile telephony, cars, aircraft, television, the internet, traffic management, security systems and power management, to name but a few! There are more embedded processors sold each year than in any other sector of the computing market, making it one of the major drivers of the IT economy. There are many times more embedded processors in place than people on the planet. It is also a field in which Europe is a global leader.
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