UK Government confirms new innovation centre ‘to put UK at forefront of big data’

National Innovation CentreThe UK Government says that a new £30m National Innovation Centre for Data (NICD) “aims to see the next Google or Facebook” launched here, and help the country capitalise on a potential £40bn a year boost to the economy.

The centre, whose funding was confirmed today by UK Minister for Digital Matt Hancock, will be based in Newcastle and will aim to link leading academic talent in universities with industry and the public sector to help them develop the skills they need to solve real world problems using advances in data science.

It forms part of the Government’s Digital Strategy which set out plans to boost the nation’s digital skills, infrastructure and innovation, including measures to support Britain’s world-leading artificial intelligence (AI) sector with an industry-led review.

“The NICD will create a pipeline of talent to power the ground-breaking businesses of tomorrow and is further progress in the Government’s Industrial Strategy which aims to create an economy that helps Britain secure a future as a competitive, global nation,” said a statement.

In Scotland, The Data Lab is an innovation centre focused on helping Scottish industry to capitalise on a growing market opportunity in data science. Established with an £11.3m grant from the Scottish Funding Council, it enables industry, public sector and world-class university researchers to innovate and develop new data science capabilities in a collaborative environment.

Speaking at Nesta’s Data Skills For The Future conference today, Hancock said: “We’re determined to unlock the huge potential of big data which could add billions of pounds to our economy – from powering price comparison sites to improving the flow of transport around cities.

“Our new National Innovation Centre for Data will help us achieve this aim by making sure the skills and talent in our universities is being transferred into industry and the public sector.

“It will not only spark innovation among the next generation of tech experts but also help businesses across the whole country capitalise on the immense value of data.”

The £15m funding from Government, which is managed through the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), will be matched by £15m from Newcastle University.

Newcastle has a growing digital cluster with multi-national companies including Sage, Hewlett Packard and Accenture, as well as public sector IT facilities, including the HMRC Digital Delivery Centre, and commercial data centres.

Newcastle University has specialists with expertise in working closely with a wide range of industrial organisations through its Cloud Innovation Centre, and it also hosts the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Cloud Computing for Big Data Analytics.

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