Data experts tackle real-world challenges

Edinburgh researchers are working with companies and public bodies to find new ways to use data for social and economic benefit.

Companies including drinks group Diageo and technical professional services firm Jacobs have met University experts to discuss their data-related challenges. Organisations such as City of Edinburgh Council and NHS National Services Scotland have also made contact.

An event, comprising a series of workshops, was hosted by Edinburgh Innovations, which coordinates industry engagement for the University.

Topics at the Academic Industry Meeting day (AIMday) included the use of Blockchain technology to allow online voting. Attendees also considered how multiple large datasets might be used in combination to tackle environmental issues.

Social benefits

Jacobs posed the challenge of how to use data to demonstrate the social benefits of infrastructure investment.

The organisation suggested that infrastructure investment can help improve social inclusion.

A road or rail project might, for instance, create jobs and build a stronger sense of community, but these benefits are not always articulated.

David Glen, Jacobs Divisional Director, said the day helped to highlight all the work being done by the University in this field.

New ideas

It had given the company new ideas on how it could work more closely with the University in the future, he said.

NHS National Services Scotland asked for researchers’ insights into how to make appropriate data more available to others, and how to make greater use of data that other organisations produce.

The organisation said the event opened up new possibilities for the NHS working with University data experts.

Jonathan Cameron, Head of Service, Strategic Development, NHS National Services Scotland said the discussion had been very insightful and has given the organisation food for thought.

Mr Cameron had been encouraged that there will be collaborations and potential work coming out of the event – work that will have some impact and benefit.

The City Region Deal offers a once-in-a-generation opportunity. The University’s ability to collaborate across sectors to solve real-world economic and social challenges, as illustrated by this event and our many existing partnerships, shows we are perfectly placed to build this global capability and benefit our local and regional community.

Dr George BaxterChief Executive Officer of Edinburgh Innovations

Data-driven innovation

The University is leading the Data-Driven Innovation (DDI) programme of the £1 billion Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal.

This represents an opportunity for the University to partner in an ambitious project for inclusive economic growth.

The DDI programme aims to establish the region as the data capital of Europe, attracting investment, fuelling entrepreneurship and delivering inclusive growth.

The University will work with businesses, government agencies, education providers and other organisations to open new areas of work and economic value.