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The RCUK Digital Economy Theme – A Catalyst for Change

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The aim of this presentation is to update MSR on the RCUK Digital Economy (DE) Theme and what has been done with the £200M of funding invested in research and PhD training in UK Universities. The DE Theme aims to rapidly realise the transformational impact of digital technologies on aspects of community life, cultural experiences, future society, and the economy. Essentially it aims to answer the question: How can the novel design and use of digital technologies contribute to an innovative, healthy economy and inclusive society? It adopts a highly inter-disciplinary approach, including computer science, engineering, social science, economists, psychologists, the arts and medical research. This is reflected in its funding, from three UK Research Councils, the AHRC , EPSRC (lead) and ESRC . Co-creation with users (business, charities and people) is key and there is collaboration with over 400 users from six domains (Government, Creative Economy, Services, Health and Social Care, Transport, Energy).

Key activities are 3 flagship Hubs (£12M each), 7 Centres for Doctoral Training (CDT), plus a number of “Sandpit” and “Research in the Wild” activities, which are focused on four key Challenge Areas: • Sustainable Society: In sustainable societies of the future, people will be able to make informed choices. Improved delivery of information and services will foster changes in behaviour to minimise the negative impact of our activities. • Communities and Culture Communities, participation and culture are changing in the digital age. It is important that we ensure digital interaction enhances, not replaces face to face interactions. • IT as a Utility Digital infrastructure should be so simple, accessible and reliable that it seems invisible. In delivering this, questions need to be answered about whether people will trust it, how to ensure privacy is respected and how to pay for it. • New Economic Models In an increasingly global economy, as new companies and individuals use digital technologies to innovate, the market can change rapidly. New business models are being created to adapt and take advantage of the opportunities in the digital world.

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