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£1m investment to enhance University’s Big Data offer to science and business

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; and 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”.

To see the full press release, please click here.

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