UK's Digital Economy research boosted by £23 million investment in six new world-leading centres

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As part of the Government's Summer Budget, the Chancellor, George Osborne, confirmed funding for six new multidisciplinary research centres - worth a total of £45 million with partner contributions - that will drive forward the UK's Digital Economy research, knowledge and skills.

Designed to help create and deliver real-world impact, the £23 million investment will come via The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and will support the centres over the next five years.

The centres will be hosted by the Universities of York, Bath, and Nottingham, Swansea University, UCL and Newcastle University and will draw in substantial support and leverage from over 150 engaged partners including universities, companies and other regional bodies such as Local Enterprise Partnerships and Councils.

Universities and Science Minister Jo Johnson said: This latest investment demonstrates our commitment to maximising the digital revolution for the UK. These Centres will lead the way in developing innovative digital products which enhance our daily lives - from personalised digital health services to the use of interactive media in education.

By harnessing our international research excellence, in partnership with local and regional expertise, these Centres will accelerate Digital technology innovation for business and society's benefit.

To create real world impact, be it cultural, social or economic, the centres will focus on a wide variety of areas and potential applications, such as:

  • improving motion capture technologies for entertainment industries and the application of this technology for the analysis of body movement to improve human performance in sport and develop prosthetics for amputees, plus creating opportunities for making savings for the NHS and MOD (Bath)
  • seeking to refine the ethical use of personal data to create and deliver personalised products and experiences (Nottingham)
  • harnessing the power of digital creativity to provide new technologies for digital games and interactive media and exploiting the space where they converge to benefit science, society, education and culture (York)
  • the design of open source digital technologies and media to realise transformational models of local government services for social care, public health, education and local democracy (Newcastle)
  • exploring how to deliver digital innovations that help people relate and respond to our rapidly expanding technological world, with a focus on health and social care, resource-constrained communities, heritage, and cybersecurity and cyberterrorism (Swansea)
  • using data and advances in modelling to inform evidence-based policy that can address how regions can use assets to cooperate economically and help to rebalance the national economy (UCL)

The centres will build on the UK's existing academic strengths, grow and develop the pool of interdisciplinary trained researchers and work together to help position the country as a world leader in Digital Economy research.

Professor Philip Nelson, EPSRC's Chief Executive said: Building on our previous investments, these new Digital Economy Centres will show how multidisciplinary research in the digital economy can be brought to bear on the big societal challenges we face. Their impacts in the real world will be shown by adoption by policy makers and improvements in services and economic benefits in the public, private and charitable sectors.

These centres are a result of a collaborative call with our partners the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), Innovate UK, the Digital Catapult and others. By working together and involving users we have been able to encourage the leveraging of £22 million additional funding and support in kind that will boost the impact of these centres.

Adrian Woolard, Head of R&D North Lab, said: As part of BBC Research & Development's User Experience Research Partnership, BBC R&D is supporting four Digital Economy research centres to help drive the UK's creative economy forward. By focusing on user experience research, we want to enable our audiences to enjoy genuinely new experiences enabled by an internet-based broadcasting system, data and context-driven insight and connected devices. Across all four hubs we will be able to tackle some of the biggest challenges and opportunities in broadcasting today - from immersive and interactive storytelling, to interfaces and services that offer greater accessibility, and flexible content that can be used for a range of learning, social and cultural purposes.

Notes for Editors:

The panel rank ordered list of projects can be found on the EPSRC website.

  • EP/M023281/1 Centre for the Analysis of Motion, Entertainment Research and Applications (CAMERA) - University of Bath
  • EP/M02315X/1 From Human Data to Personal Experience - University of Nottingham
  • EP/M023265/1 The Digital Creativity Hub - University of York
  • EP/M023001/1 Digital Civics Research Centre - Newcastle University
  • EP/M022722/1 The CHERISH-DE Centre - Challenging Human Environments and Research Impact for a Sustainable and Healthy Digital Economy - Swansea University
  • EP/M023583/1 UK Regions Digital Research Facility (UK RDRF) - UCL

Research Councils UK Digital Economy programme

EPSRC leads the Research Councils UK Digital Economy programme (RCUK DE) with core support provided from programme partners, the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and Innovate UK.

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)

As the main funding agency for engineering and physical sciences research, our vision is for the UK to be the best place in the world to Research, Discover and Innovate.

By investing £800 million a year in research and postgraduate training, we are building the knowledge and skills base needed to address the scientific and technological challenges facing the nation. Our portfolio covers a vast range of fields from healthcare technologies to structural engineering, manufacturing to mathematics, advanced materials to chemistry. The research we fund has impact across all sectors. It provides a platform for future economic development in the UK and improvements for everyone's health, lifestyle and culture.

We work collectively with our partners and other Research Councils on issues of common concern via Research Councils UK.

The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)

AHRC funds world-class research in a wide range of subjects: ancient history, modern dance, archaeology, digital content, philosophy, English literature, design, the creative and performing arts, and many more. Each year the AHRC spends approximately £98m to fund research and postgraduate training often in collaboration with partners. The quality and range of research supported by this investment of public funds provide considerable economic, social and cultural benefits to the UK. For further information, please visit the AHRC website.

Innovate UK

Innovate UK is the new name for the Technology Strategy Board - the UK's innovation agency. We know that taking a new idea to market is a challenge. We fund, support and connect innovative businesses through a unique mix of people and programmes to accelerate sustainable economic growth. For further information visit the Innovate UK website.

Reference: PN 31-15

Contact Details

In the following table, contact information relevant to the page. The first column is for visual reference only. Data is in the right column.

Name: EPSRC Press Office
Telephone: 01793 444404