A new £30m National Innovation Centre for Data (NICD) aims to help the country capitalise on a potential £40bn a year boost to the economy.
The National Centre, based in Newcastle, aims to combine 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.
The NICD will create a pipeline of talent to power the 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.
The centre will run a programme of projects where academics and industry can share and develop their data skills to solve challenges - for example, industry wanting advice on how to develop the data analysis skills to predict when a machine may stop working to prevent costly breakdowns.
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 and will also help supply the next generation of skilled and educated researchers.
Speaking at Nesta’s Data Skills for The Future conference, minister for digital Matt 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.”
New independent research suggests that companies using data science are 10% more productive on average than those that do not, and companies that exploit data can reduce costs, innovate and develop new goods and services faster than those that do not and make faster and better decisions.
Studies by Nesta, the innovation foundation, show UK firms who use data most effectively are 40% cent more likely to launch new products and services ahead of their competitors.
Newcastle has one of the largest and fastest growing digital clusters in the country with multi-national companies including Sage - the UK’s largest software company - Hewlett Packard and Accenture, as well as significant public sector IT facilities, including the HMRC Digital Delivery Centre, and major commercial data centres.
Professor Nick Wright, PVC Innovation and Business, Newcastle University, said: “NICD will help to address the data skills gap by taking a practical hands-on approach. We will work with organisations on their domain related problems, transferring the skills into the organisation that will enable them to innovate through data.”