£1 million injection to enhance University of Leicester’s Big Data offer to science and business
Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 17 February 2017
A £1 million investment into the Department of Informatics at the University of Leicester will develop capacity to work on Big Data with business and industry.
It will see the creation of new research roles and projects with enhanced facilities that will allow the University to remain at the cutting edge of developments and solutions in Big Data in application areas as diverse as Earth Observation, Bio-medicine and Computational Social Science.
As part of this flagship investment the University is establishing two Professorial Chairs in Data-oriented Software Engineering, and Knowledge Discovery and Machine Learning. These Chairs will be supported by the appointment of several lecturers to create capacity to co-operate with industry and satisfy demand for interdisciplinary projects.
The Department of Informatics has strong foundations in research on Semantics, Algorithm Design and Engineering, Validation and Verification, as well as Software Modelling and Evolution. The new investment reinforces the Department’s aims to build excellence, capacity and expertise in areas relevant to Data-Driven Applications Engineering, including:
• Software Technology and Engineering, to collect, integrate, represent and manage data
• Knowledge Discovery and Machine learning, to analyse data
• Human Computer Interaction and Systems Engineering, to build usable and useful applications
Professor Reiko Heckel said: “The two Chairs will bring leadership and focus to two areas of research that are in particular demand for interdisciplinary and industry collaborations. Data-driven applications need sound engineering methods as well as specific techniques for data analytics, which is what these two chairs with their follow-up positions will provide. On the engineering side they will build on significant existing capacity in Informatics. In data analytics we collaborate with data mining experts in the Department of Mathematics and beyond to build up a joint research theme at the college level.
“We are already recruiting for a lecturer in Human Computer Interaction, building on our expertise for user-centric design and usability evaluation also required in such applications, and are growing our Agile Academy student software company which will help to deliver specific projects.
“Apart from projects with industrial partners that have direct economic impact, we are working as part of the Leicester Institute for Space and Earth Observation and are members of the Bioinformatics network BINERI and the Institute for Precision Medicine. Our growth is specifically targeted to increase our contribution to these two areas, which in turn deliver projects of benefit to the public.
“For example, BINERI is concerned with effective data sharing between NHS trusts and researchers to enable new research benefitting clinical outcomes, while LISEO use earth observation data to monitor pollution levels and other environmental factors based on which software applications can warn and advise the public, control traffic, etc.”
Professor Paul Monks, Head of the College of Science and Engineering, said: “It is recognised that Informatics has a crucial role to play with bridging the data revolution both in science and commerce. We recognise the need to innovate to bring together this world leading knowledge in scientific data, for example, in space and biomedicine, together with modern Informatics techniques to drive new discoveries. This investment fits into the wider strategy of the College and University transforming Informatics to meet societal challenges.
Professor Monks added: “The investment in Informatics is about laying the foundation of new knowledge at the fundamental-applied interface to deliver social and economic impact.”
Notes to editors:
About the Leicester Institute for Space and Earth Observation
This new Institute brings together all the research work within the University associated with Space (including astronomy and planetary science) and Earth Observation, which is spread across a number of Departments within the College of Science and Engineering: Physics and Astronomy, Chemistry, Computer Science, Geography, Geology, Engineering and Mathematics.
The focus will be on Space/EO missions and instruments, Space & EO data and innovation. Expected outcomes will bring science leadership (mission scientists), alongside Engineering capability, and develop expertise on data analysis, data exploitation and leading technology that can be applied both within Space Research and outside in other areas e.g. medical devices and diagnosis (already underway).
Space was identified by the last Government as one of the eight great technologies and is seen as cross-cutting enabler of growth. The Innovation and Growth Strategy (IGS) study in 2010 identified Space as a growth market with the target of £40 billion by 2030, 10% of world market. This growth needs to be underwritten by research. Having an integrated Space and Earth Observation Institute is timely as government actions continue to implement the IGS.
The University of Leicester has a long and distinguished record of discovery in space science. Every year since 1967 has seen a Leicester-built instrument operating in space. We hold, and have held, vital roles in many space missions for space agencies including NASA, European Space Agency, UK Space Agency, ISRO (India) and JAXA (Japan), covering astronomical, planetary and Earth observation science missions. These include NASA/ESA’s James Webb Space Telescope, ESA’s Bepi-Colombo mission, and ESA’s and EUMETSAT’s Meteosat Second Generation missions.
Leicester Precision Medicine Institute
The Leicester Precision Medicine Institute is one of four flagship interdisciplinary Research Institutes that the University has launched as part its strategic vision.
Future treatment of human disease will increasingly move from a ‘one size fits all’ approach to one of tailoring the treatment to the individual patient. Considering disease at a personal level allows for accurate identification of risk, and for tailored (or precision) therapies where patient-specific responses are monitored and treatments refined to deliver optimal efficacy with minimal toxicity or adverse reaction.
With the strapline ‘Improving Healthcare in an Ethnically Diverse Population’ the Leicester Precision Medicine Institute will coalesce and align the research missions of the university and the NHS in Leicester. This Centre of Excellence will develop, evaluate, and implement treatments based on individual patient differences, to provide better healthcare that recognises the ethnic diversity of our population.