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UK to invest £45m in digital research and skills

Millions of pounds will be invested in building research centres to fuel the UK’s digital economy research and skills

The UK will invest £45m in research centres around the country to drive research into the UK’s digital economy.

Six centres will be developed, with £23m investment and support from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and a further £22m from other UK bodies.

York, Bath, Nottingham, Swansea and Newcastle universities, as well as University College London, will host the research centres to draw in support from partners.

“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,” said universities and science minister Jo Johnson.

“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.” 

The centres will work on a number of different initiatives in an attempt to use digital to improve cultural, social and economic change, including the refinement of data for personalised products and designing open-source technologies to develop transformational models for local government services.

Projects will also work on using motion capture technology for medical and sport performance purposes, as well as developing digital games to promote creativity in education, using digital to teach the public about coping in a technology age, and using data modelling to promote regional co-operation to strengthen and balance the economy.

“Building on our previous investments, these new Digital Economy Centres will show how multi-disciplinary research in the digital economy can be brought to bear on the big societal challenges we face,” said EPSRC chief executive Philip Nelson.

“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.”

The announcement was made as a part of chancellor George Osbourne’s summer budget, where he pledged to invest more money in the digital economy, as well as roll out business tax reform.

This was followed by the announcement of a Digital Transformation Plan to help implement digital technologies to improve UK productivity.

But with the government suggesting that digital is the best way to improve government services during times of austerity, many have concerns over local authorities’ ability to deliver these services.

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