At a technology conference in London today, the universities and science minister will outline details of 55 research projects that it is hoped will bring large sets of complex data into usable formats.
One project, based at Lancaster University, aims to convert thousands of musical scores which are stored online as images into a format that would allow them to be accessed by today’s musicians. Others that are receiving a share of the money hope to develop a better understanding of human disease, take steps towards tackling obesity, and solve transport problems.
Part of the funding will also be used to set up big data research centres in four English universities (see box), which will make data from private sector organisations and local government accessible to researchers.
“Big data is one of the eight great technologies of the future and a priority for government,” Mr Willetts will tell the High Performance Computing and Big Data conference.
“It has the potential to transform public and private sector organisations, drive research and development, increase productivity and innovation, and enable market-changing products and services. This funding will help the UK grasp these opportunities and get ahead in the global race.”
The new “big data” research investments:
- The Medical Research Council will invest £50 million in bioinformatics, which uses many areas of computer science, statistics, mathematics and engineering to process biological data.
- The Arts and Humanities Research Council will invest £4 million in 21 new open data projects designed to make large data sets that ordinarily only academics would have access to accessible to the general public.
- The Economic and Social Research Council will invest £14 million in four new research centres at the University of Essex, the University of Glasgow, University College London, and the University of Leeds.
- The Natural Environment Research Council will invest £4.6 million in 24 projects to help the UK research community take advantage of existing environmental data.