Three N8 Universities recieve New Data Science and AI Awards


N8 Research Partnership universities have been announced as three of the first recipients of a new award launched by The Alan Turing Institute, the UK’s national institute for data science and artificial intelligence (AI).

 The Universities of Liverpool and Sheffield and Durham University are among 24 UK universities to receive the first Turing Network Development Awards, which recognises those institutions with proven research excellence and a strong track record in data science, AI, or a related field.

The three universities will significantly benefit through active involvement with the Turing Institute’s thriving network, in addition to receiving awards of up to £25,000.

The awards will enable each university to engage and grow diverse communities in data science and AI research and innovation across all career stages within their institution, as well as to host activities and initiatives that engage the wider community on a local or regional scale.

The exploration of data science and AI has the potential to transform society by tackling some of the global challenges facing healthcare, social justice and manufacturing and industry today, using the wealth of digital data produced by these sectors to improve outcomes and improve lives.

The topics the universities will explore as a result of the awards align with the seven technology families of UK strength and opportunity as outlined in the UK Government’s Innovation Strategy.

The University of Sheffield demonstrated its global reputation in translation in data science and AI to win the award, with the university’s researchers earlier this year developing a new machine learning model for the discovery of genetic risk factors for diseases such as Motor Neuron Disease (MND).

Robotics and smart machines are at the forefront of the UK’s innovation agenda and the University of Liverpool has been awarded for its continued work in the field. The university has a state-of-the-art facility with a variety of robots and experimental space in the smART Lab, as well as its Robotics and Autonomous Systems Laboratory (RASL) and Virtual Engineering Simulation Laboratory (VESL).

Durham University complete the trio of winners as a result of its continued work into quantum light and matter. With electronics, photonics and quantum outlined in the UK’s Innovation strategy, Durham University and its fellow N8 members are well positioned to be at the forefront of helping the UK becoming a science and technology superpower.

The awards further demonstrate the breadth of expertise in these fields right across the North of England, and which the N8 is committed to supporting through the N8 Centre of Excellence in Computationally Intensive Research (N8 CIR).

N8 CIR exists to build vibrant communities of practice around specific research priorities and to provide both foundational and cutting-edge skills training for researchers and technical staff. Its current priority areas are Digital Health, Digital Humanities and Machine Learning.

Annette Bramley, Director of the N8 Research Partnership, said:  “The key to unlocking the technological, social and economic opportunities offered by data science and artificial intelligence is collaboration. Engagement with The Alan Turing Institute offers our member universities really exciting ways to grow the UK’s dynamic research and innovation landscape to ensure the UK is a leader in these fields.

“Since the UK Innovation Strategy was launched last July, it has been great to see the seven families of technology strength and opportunity for the UK getting the attention they deserve. This is a pivotal moment in the development of the technologies of tomorrow, with the North of England and the N8 Research Partnership at the heart of it.

“There are few better examples of what can be achieved at Northern universities than Alan Turing’s pioneering post-war work in Manchester, and the N8 is proud to continue that legacy by using our research and innovation expertise to address the challenges the world is currently facing.”