31 March 2016

Some thoughts on data in academic environments vs industry - Part 2/2

Now if we in the academic world are so good at managing "big data," how does it (if at all) impact industry and society as a whole? Obviously we rely on the storage and networking industry for the "fabric," and more generally we widely collaborate with industry partners in "big data" projects such as those funded by Horizon 2020, e.g. ESiWACE and SAGE to solve the "next generation" of problems. And of course there are data specialists in industry with even bigger data volumes than ours.

So the question here is how we (=academic data centres) can engage with industry more widely, specifically with those who could benefit from the expertise we have developed.

If we have something that can be commercialised, we can of course spin out companies: universities and research councils can do this fairly easily. Indeed, many former collaborators are now CxOs and co-founders of startups such as SIXSQ and StreamVibe. Also patents and knowledge exchange. And STFC has the Hartree centre which focuses on solving problems - including "big data" ones - for industry. STFC also has an innovation hub.

For more collaborative exploratory work, let me highlight the opportunity of working with the Connected Digital Economy Catapult and the Big Innovation Centre. Like we see with our own experiments, we need to get experts together from both sides - experiment and infrastructure - to make them both work together. CDEC and BIC have the ability to tap into business requirements, and as an example, we have previously investigated and designed a "trusted data hub" to enable companies that don't want to share data openly to share in a controlled way within a trusted platform. By connecting academic expertise and innovation with industry requirements, we can increase the impact of our work and together design systems which improve people's lives. The CDEC and BIC wear the suits, so we don't have to!

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