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Leeds a major centre for Big Data analysis – and a national resource

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10 Jul 2015

A new institute set up to help public and private sector organisations meet the challenges and opportunities of the Big Data revolution opens its doors today (Friday), ensuring that the University of Leeds will be a major centre for Big Data analysis.

The Leeds Institute for Data Analytics (LIDA) offers state-of-the-art facilities in data analytics and will partner with researchers and organisations to help them make the most of the rapidly growing fields of consumer and medical data analysis.

Professor Mark Birkin, Director of LIDA, explained more about today’s one-day event, the LIDA Research Forum. He said: “Today is all about making sure researchers and organisations know about LIDA and the expertise, support and resources we can offer. 

“Using large and complex data sets presents huge challenges for organisations. They may be combining different data with their own sales data, analysing and integrating data from various sources, or simply thinking about diverse data sets that can be pulled together to reveal new insights.

“With all these challenges, there is a constant need for new techniques and tools, and to ensure organisations have the right data analytics capabilities. That’s where LIDA comes in – we’re a trusted partner that has developed world-class facilities under one roof, so we’ve raised the bar in standards of secure data storage, access and analysis.” 

LIDA opens 24 hours after the Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts announced two multi million pound grants had been awarded to the university by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Medical Research Council (MRC). 

 

The funding is part of the Government’s support for research that can drive economic growth. Big Data analysis has been identified by ministers as one of “eight great technologies” in which the UK is internationally competitive.

David Willetts said: “Making the most of large and complex data is a huge priority for Government as it has the potential to drive research and development, increase productivity and innovation and ultimately transform lives.”

The University of Leeds has been awarded £5.8 million from the MRC and, although the final details are still being negotiated, a further grant of approximately £5 million from the ESRC.

The ESRC grant will be used to establish a new Master’s course in Geography and Business, which will help address national skill shortages in Big Data analysis, and will fund a Consumer Data Research Centre (CDRC) that is jointly hosted by the University of Leeds and University College London.

The CDRC will be a national resource that will make data, routinely collected by business and local government organisations, accessible for academics in order to undertake important research in the social sciences to inform policy development, implementation and evaluation.