The government has announced plans to invest £34 million in a new data research network and four administrative data research centres as part of a wider £189 million big data initiative.
The funding is in response to a recommendation made by the Administrative Data Taskforce (ADT), which was set up in December 2011 to look at the best ways to make administrative data available for research safely.
In a report published a year after its formation, the taskforce proposed the creation of a UK administrative data research network that would be responsible for linking data between government departments. The network would provide a single governance structure that would allow research to be carried out in a more consistent and reliable manner.
Measures would also be taken to ensure that the data is secure, for example, making sure that only accredited users in safe settings can access the data, and that there will be no direct access to data records of individuals.
Science and Universities minister David Willetts announced the funding in the Mountbatten lecture this week, delivered at the Institution of Engineering and Technology.
He announced a total of £186 million in funding in his lecture, aimed at boosting eight ‘great technologies of the future’ that will help take innovation from the labs to the marketplace more quickly.
“We are one of the most efficient research nations, and we get the best returns on our investment,” said Willetts.
“We are investing to help translate our excellent science into commercially successful technologies, which in turn boosts our businesses, creates jobs and drives economic growth.”
The rest of the funding includes £10 million from the Department for International Development to support the transfer of technology and new products to developing countries, £15 million for King’s College London to create a research and innovation hub win the new Cancer Centre at Guy’s Hospital and £10 million for the University of Glasgow to create a new Clinical Research Facility and imaging suite at South Glasgow Hospitals Campus.
The ADT was formed by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the Medical Research Council and Wellcome Trust, and is chaired by former NHS chief executive Sir Alan Langlands.