Co-Director Introduction

Introduction from the Co-Directors

By LIDA Co-Directors, Professor Mark Birkin and Professor Chris Gale

The Leeds Institute for Data Analytics (LIDA) has been at the forefront of data analytics research and education at the University of Leeds, and beyond.

Our core activities align strongly with and complement the Research and Innovation Strategy to support interdisciplinary research through research centres and institutes. LIDA is also capitalising fully on digital technology, data and digital approaches and engaging in the effective use of large data sets through careful governance, management, stewardship and storage of data, in line with the Digital Transformation Strategy.

Through LIDA, the university has realised a number of academic successes. Our new Research Communities and Programmes continue to grow and develop and have already evidenced great successes. This includes the award of £19.3M for a new NIHR Biomedical Research Facility, the British Heart Foundation FIND-AF project and ESRC Vulnerability and Policing Futures Research Centre awarded (£3.3m), with a plethora of high impact awards under review and in application.

Underpinning LIDA supported research, our award-winning Data Scientist Development programme, which develops the data scientists of the future, continues to go from strength to strength. 2021-22 saw 9 data scientists join the programme, which has increased to 12 starting for the 2022-23 term.

LIDA was formally recognised for the impact of its research and development of a culture of equality, diversity and inclusion in research, receiving a number of Research Culture and Engaged for Impact Awards, including; Winner: EDI in Research (Research Culture), Open Research (Research Culture), Building partnerships (Impact), Caring for the Future (Impact); and a runner-up in one other category: Finding a Better Way (Impact). We are now partnering with the Horizons Institute to raise awareness of EDI work and alpha skills training. Congratulations to all who were shortlisted and winners.

Our ambitions of being leaders in data analytics teaching and education are being realised. Professor Paul Baxter has driven the successful design and coordination of our MSc in Data Science (Statistics). We believe that this new MSc will be another turning point for LIDA and our operating model.

We have completed our ambition of developing a world class secure cloud based computing platform – Leeds Analytic Secure Environment for Research (LASER). We are grateful to Roy Ruddle and Dom Frankis for their tireless commitment to this endeavour. The Data Analytics Team, led by Adam Keeley, will expand to enable the development of our underpinning data activities and facilitate the growth of data analytics across the University. We now wish to understand how we can further develop LIDA’s research IT technology, and are under discussions as to how we may realise this ambition. Perhaps through a computing platform dedicated specifically to AI that would enable machine learning and deep learning research applications.

Our ongoing partnership between Leeds and The Alan Turing Institute means that LIDA remains optimally placed to capitalise on regional, national and international trends in data science. Amongst our 2022 cohort of Turing Fellows we have representation from computer science and mathematicians, thus complementing our strength across application domains. We are continuing our successful seminar series inviting university Turing Fellows to speak regularly about their research, bringing Leeds closer to the core strategic areas of Turing and the new Turing Research and Innovation Clusters (TRICs).

We have continued to build the LIDA team over the last year and welcome on board, Hannah Jackson, Communications Manager at LIDA. Hannah trained in Marketing and Communications with the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) and was previously a Senior Communications Business Partner for NHS Digital. Hannah is a fantastic addition to our team and will support and promote the fantastic data science and AI research, education and training across our communities

The LIDA Executive are now turning their attention to a 5-year strategy refresh. This is to ensure we continue to be aligned with the fast-moving pace of data Science, research IT developments, education and new ways of working – and that we continue to compliment and contribute to the University Strategy.

The successes of the Institute is due to the wider engagement, commitment, vision and support of many stakeholders – to whom we are grateful. Indeed we would like to recognise and thank everyone who has been involved with LIDA in any capacity from user engagement to coordination, delivery, management and leadership. We would look forward to your continued involvement in future years so that our collective strength may take us to ever greater achievements.

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