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.

Immage showing Embeded Systems' functionality within a car

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.