Usher Institute

£3 million boost from UK Government to find data solutions to healthcare challenges

The University of Edinburgh has led on one of 10 successful project bids sharing £3 million funding from the UK Government as part of the Digital Innovation Hub Programme, Health Data Research UK has announced today.

These 10 new ‘Sprint Exemplar Innovation’ projects are funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, which aims to tackle the big societal and industrial challenges of today such as an ageing population. The University of Edinburgh will lead on one of these projects.

Map of data across the UK

Collaborators, including those from the HDR UK Scotland Site as well as industrial partners and NHS Education for Scotland, led by the University of Edinburgh, have been awarded funding to create a "map" that will enable researchers to find and explore different datasets in localities across the UK and use it to link these for large scale research.

The UK has some of the richest health data of anywhere in the world, yet it is fragmented, and its potential to improve lives is often untapped.  To address this and demonstrate the power of data in health research to transform lives the Government is funding ‘proof of concept’ initiatives, led by Health Data Research UK. These will inform the creation of a UK-wide infrastructure that securely and safely connects health data research and innovation.

Health Data Research UK

Data currently fragmented and difficult to interpret

We know that answers to many in-depth healthcare questions can only be explored if we can look across data for the whole UK. However, we manage data locally and describe it in different ways to suit local communities. To get a global view from local data we need a map that tells us precisely where to look for data and how to interpret it when we find it.

Predictable, rapid, and locally controlled

A map describing data across the UK can be used to link data between localities in a way that makes access more predictable and rapid – while also allowing the people managing different data sets to retain control of how the data in their charge is shared.

Promoting innovation

We can also treat the map itself as data that can be shared to give insights into potential uses of data linkage and to encourage as wide a variety of innovators as possible to build tools that can be used across the data landscape; enriching the data, revealing new knowledge and extending the map.

These ten projects from across the UK, all led by clinicians working with researchers and industry partners, will demonstrate how the trustworthy use of health data and technology can improve patient pathways, make ground-breaking discoveries quicker and put the patient in charge. We are very excited about bringing these digital projects together with public participation and support so that health data research is brought to life at scale, demonstrating public and patient benefit of digital innovation in healthcare.

Professor Andrew MorrisDirector of Health Data Research UK


The University of Edinburgh is delighted to be working with University of Strathclyde, University of Glasgow, University of Aberdeen, University of St Andrews, University of Dundee, NHS National Services Scotland, NES Digital Services, Microsoft Research and Platinum Informatics to deliver this project.

More information

Health Data Research UK Press Release