Chancellor announces funding for Newcastle Smart Data centre

Newcastle University will establish a new £30 million centre to unleash the potential offered by big data, as announced in the Budget.

The new National Institute for Smart Data Innovation (NISDI) will bring together industry, the public sector and world-leading academics to develop the skills, ideas and resources needed to exploit the opportunities offered by the explosion in digital data.

Led by industry and benefiting from Newcastle University’s internationally-renowned research in computing science, NISDI will enable businesses to extract value from smart data and increase competitiveness.

Based in a new building on the Science Central site in Newcastle, NISDI will focus on realising the potential of big data to address specific challenges in areas including health, automotive and manufacturing.

Professor Paul Watson, Director of Newcastle University’s Digital Institute, said: “As the volume of big data increases, organisations face real challenges in unlocking its value: the new Institute will help them to achieve this.

“Newcastle is already home to one of the fastest growing digital clusters in the country. By providing world-class facilities and expertise all under one roof, NISDI will act as a beacon for Smart Data innovation, accelerating innovation and helping the region, and the rest of the UK, to become global leaders in this increasingly important sector.”

Councillor Nick Forbes, Leader of Newcastle City Council, said: “It is great news that Science Central will host a unique facility which brings together industry, the public sector and universities to create the skills, ideas and resources needed to exploit the commercial opportunities provided by Smart Data. It was identified in the North East devolution agreement as a priority for the region and this outcome is a testament to the partnership working that went into developing the proposal.

“Local people will benefit from the creation of over 1,000 jobs in the city’s booming digital tech sector, helping them to develop the skills of the future. The institute will make a big contribution to the economic growth of the city and the wider region. It will have national and international significance, cementing Newcastle University’s role as the country’s leading centre for research in computing science.”

The new centre will be driven by the needs of business, and a key partner will be Dynamo, the industry-led initiative set up to grow the technology sector in the North East.

Charlie Hoult, Chair of Dynamo, said: ““This is great news for the region. Dynamo has always placed the region’s strengths in technology in a wider context and it’s testament to the strength and depth of support for innovation and collaboration that the Institute will provide a further platform to engage both nationally and internationally.

“The Institute will also be a beacon for the up-skilling needed for this IT revolution, if we are to succeed in areas such as smart cars, cybersecurity, government digitisation or cloud innovation.

“Our region needs to be at the forefront of this so NISDI is great for the region, great for the University and great for the future.”

Richard Baker, Head of Strategy and Policy at the North East LEP, said, “We are delighted that the Chancellor has confirmed funding for the new National Institute for Smart Data Innovation and congratulate Newcastle University, and partners from across the North East who came together to make the proposal, in securing this investment.

“The North East has a strong profile as one of the UK’s leading digital economy hubs and this investment is recognition of the region’s potential to provide national leadership working with big data applications. The Smart Data Institute will provide a national and international focus for new skills, ideas and resources in a rapidly growing part of the global economy, with a current annual value of $125bn.”

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