UK government to provide big data projects with funding of £73 million

Big Data

The Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) revealed on Wednesday that the UK government plans to make GBP73m in funding available for projects that will work to convert large sets of complex data into usable formats for research and analysis, helping the public and academics to unlock the potential of big data.

According to BIS, the big data market is expected to benefit the UK economy by around GBP216bn and create 58,000 new jobs before 2017. The government anticipates that big data could potentially transform public and private sector organisations, drive research and development, increase productivity and innovation, as well as enable market-changing products and services. The investment into 55 projects is expected to drive innovation in several areas, such as the development of better understanding of human disease, tackling obesity and solving transport problems.

Organisations that will benefit from the big data funding include:

The Medical Research Council (MRC) which will be investing GBP50m in bioinformatics, which uses areas of computer science, statistics, mathematics and engineering to process biological data. An improved understanding of human disease will benefit from this investment.

GBP4m in funding will go to the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) for 21 new open data projects. which will make large data sets accessible to the general public. These data sets are normally only accessible for academics. This project includes the ‘unlocking’ of thousands of musical scores which are stored online as frozen images by Lancaster University.

An investment of GBP14m by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) will result in four new research centres at Essex, Glasgow, UCL and Leeds Universities. These centres will make data from private sector organisations and local government accessible to research on subjects ranging from transport to obesity. This data is currently collected by these organisations, but is not being used for research purposes.

The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) has been given funding of GBP4.6m for 24 projects that will help the UK research community take advantage of existing environmental data. For example, a project to digitalise images of the solar disc, taken as early as the 1900s, will help the understanding of severe space weather risks.

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