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£30m research hub hopes to attract next internet giant

Artist's impression of the NICD building Credit: Newcastle University

A new national innovation centre is hoping to put the UK at forefront of data.

The £30m National Innovation Centre for Data (NICD) aims to see the next internet giant, such as Google or Facebook, started in the UK.

It would help the country capitalise on a potential £40bn a year boost to the economy.

The centre, whose funding has today been confirmed by Minister for Digital Matt Hancock, aims to link up leading academic talent in universities with industry and the public sector.

The idea is it would help to develop skills needed to solve real world problems using advances in data science.

The research centre is the final project of Newcastle's Science Central development, a joint venture between the council and Newcastle Uiversity.

Science Central on a whole aims to creat 4,000 new jobs in the city as well as hundreds of new homes.

The National Innovation Centre for Data forms part of the Government’s Digital Strategy which set out plans to boost the nation’s digital skills, infrastructure and innovation.

The strategy includes measures to support Britain’s world-leading artificial intelligence 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.

Based in Newcastle, the centre builds on the strengths of great institutions in the Northern Powerhouse and forms an integral part of the Government’s approach.

Matt Hancock, Minister for Digital confirmed that half of the funding needed for the development has been secured. Newcastle University will foot the bill of the remaining half.

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.“

– Matt Hancock

Data science powers internet searches and apps, while also predicting and helping treat health issues.

According to independent research, companies using data science are 10 per cent 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.

The centre will have a programme of projects where academics and industry can share and develop their data skills to solve challenges.

£15m
funding from Government's Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.
£15m
funding from Newcastle University.

Newcastle University and will also help supply the next generation of skilled and educated researchers.

Newcastle University has a core group of specialists who have 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 at Newcastle University.

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."

– Professor Nick Wright