Author: Phil Waywell, LIDA Research and Innovation Development Manager
In 2014, the University of Leeds was awarded £12 million to establish two national centres of excellence – the ESRC Consumer Data Research Centre (Leeds) and the MRC Medical Bioinformatics Centre. The two Centres united and, with a further £8 million capital investment from the University, LIDA was established.
The LIDA research portfolio has grown rapidly and now includes 32 different centres, programmes and projects worth a combined £45 million. Growth on that scale is almost unheard of, not least because public funding of research in the UK has barely grown since the financial crisis.
So, what’s the secret of our success? Well, that’s easy – fantastic people. Here in the Institute there are over 150 researchers and data scientists, with particular expertise in: health data; consumer data; urban analytics; data visualisation; and mathematical and statistical methods. No other research institute has that breadth and depth. Add to that the 300 students who form our Data Science Society and we have a wealth of talent here at the University.
However, it doesn’t stop there. Almost all of our research centres, programmes and projects involve collaborations with partners across the public and private sector, many of whom entrust us with hosting their data. That’s only possible because we have a sector leading secure data environment. Our collaborators not only bring data but complementary expertise and a deep understanding of the data-related challenges they face. It is only by working together that we can overcome to those challenges.
It’s also important to acknowledge the importance of the ‘L’ in LIDA. Leeds and its wider City Region is home to a vibrant and rapidly growing digital sector and many of our research partners are headquartered within the region. We also work hard to address the widely acknowledged digital skills gap and it was great to see Leeds named as the national exemplar within the Skills strand of the UK Digital Strategy in 2017.
We see a bright future for LIDA and have ambitious plans to build on our success and continue the rapid growth of our research portfolio whilst also introducing new programmes for students and professional learners.
*** The image is a sample from a data visualisation detailing quality of care provided by Clinical Commissioning Groups across England displayed on one of LIDA’s PowerWall displays. This work was completed by the Leeds Cardio Epi group based in LIDA @UoLCArdioEpi #datasaveslives.