Case study by the Unviersity of Exeter
The University of Exeter collaborates with the Met Office and other producers of environmental data and R&D to drive the business applications of complex data, boosting the development of a new innovation ecosystem and encouraging local growth.
The potential business impact of meta-trends such as urbanisation, digitisation and decarbonisation is huge. The University of Exeter and its partners are driving real meaning and future regional economic growth out of big environmental data.
Working with the Met Office and other producers of environmental data and R&D, the University of Exeter is helping businesses find new ways to use complex data to create new products and services, in sectors such as environmental resilience, agriculture, marine, smart cities, health and social care, and advanced engineering.
The £6.3 million Environmental Futures and Big Data Impact Lab (£3.8 million from the European Regional Development Fund) is a partnership between the University of Exeter, Met Office, Exeter City Futures, University of Plymouth, Plymouth Marine Laboratory, Plymouth College of Art and Rothamsted Research.
The Lab lets SME innovators respond to growing demand for innovation and opportunities using environmental data and sophisticated analytics and visualization tools held by the partners. The project will open up access to knowledge, expertise and data assets held by the partners and use these unique strengths to drive forward regional economic growth.
“Our region has great potential to become a recognised cluster for Environmental Futures and the capability to exploit the big data that underpins it.” Robert Kathro, Programme Director
Met Office Head of the Informatics Lab Alberto Arribas said: “We all live on the same planet and we all get affected by weather, pollution, flooding, etc. That means that environmental data and science have great value for a large number of economic sectors. However, using environmental data and science to create useful applications is not easy: science is complex, and data volumes are huge and change rapidly. The Impact Lab changes the situation completely by creating a unique place where all the different elements (science, technology, business) are combined. This will make it much easier to develop useful applications from environmental science and data.”
By linking SMEs with environmental scientists, data owners, and business support services, the Impact Lab is helping to create an innovation ecosystem which encourages local growth through the creation of new products and services. The Lab will provide the ongoing guidance and resources required to see these innovations through to market success, connecting with the global number one university business incubation service, SETsquared.
Support available to SMEs includes access to new data sets, new technology and data analytics tools, business and innovation support and joint projects working with statisticians, scientists, designers and academics in a shared working space. There will also be a Challenge Fund to further develop business solutions.
Programme Director Robert Kathro said: “Our region has great potential to become a recognised cluster for Environmental Futures and the capability to exploit the big data that underpins it. The building blocks are in place. We can now compete globally using our core strengths to create value as the world becomes ever more digital, urbanisation continues and we all decarbonise.”
Published: 17 September 2018
This article first appeared in the 2018 State of the Relationship report, commissioned by Research England and compiled and published by NCUB.