EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Horizon: Creating Our Lives in Data

Lead Research Organisation: University of Nottingham
Department Name: Horizon Digital Economy Research

Abstract

We will train a cohort of 65 PhD students to tackle the challenge of Data Creativity for the 21st century digital economy. In partnership with over 40 industry and academic partners, our students will establish the technologies and methods to enable producers and consumers to co-create smarter products in smarter ways and so establish trust in the use of personal data.

Data is widely recognised by industry as being the 'fuel' that powers the economy. However, the highly personal nature of much data has raised concerns about privacy and ownership that threaten to undermine consumers' trust. Unlocking the economic potential of personal data while tackling societal concerns demands a new approach that balances the ability to innovate new products with building trust and ensuring compliance with a complex regulatory framework. This requires PhD students with a deep appreciation of the capabilities of emerging technology, the ability to innovate new products, but also an understanding of how this can be done in a responsible way.

Our approach to this challenge is one of Data Creativity - enabling people to take control of their data and exercise greater agency by becoming creative consumers who actively co-create more trusted products.

Driven by the needs of industry, public sector and third sector partners who have so far committed £1.6M of direct and £2.8M of in kind funding, we will explore multiple sectors including Fast Moving Consumer Goods and Food; Creative Industries; Health and Wellbeing; Personal Finance; and Smart Mobility and how it can unlock synergies between these. Our partners also represent interests in enabling technologies and the cross cutting concerns of privacy and security.

Each student will work with industry, public, third sector or international partners to ensure that their research is grounded in real user needs, maximising its impact while also enhancing their future employability. External partners will be involved in PhD co-design, pervision, training, providing resources, hosting placements, setting industry-led challenge projects and steering.

Addressing the challenges of Data Creativity demands a multi-disciplinary approach that combines expertise in technology development and human-centred methods with domain expertise across key sectors of the economy. Our students will be situated within Horizon, a leading centre for Digital Economy research and a vibrant environment that draws together a national research Hub, CDT and a network of over 100 industry, academic and international partners. We currently provide access to a network of >80 potential supervisors, ranging from leading Professors to talented early career researchers. This extends to academic partners at other Universities who will be involved in co-hosting and supervising our students, including the Centre for Computing and Social Responsibility at De Montfort University.

We run an integrated four-year training programme that features: a bespoke core covering key topics in Future Products, Enabling Technologies, Innovation and Responsibility; optional advanced specialist modules; internship and international exchanges; industry-led challenge projects; training in research methods and professional skills; modules dedicated to the PhD proposal, planning and write up; and many opportunities for cross-cohort collaboration including our annual industry conference, retreat and summer schools. Our Impact Fund supports students in deepening the impact of their research. Horizon has EDI considerations embedded throughout, from consideration of equal opportunities in recruitment to ensuring that we deliver an inclusive environment which supports diversity of needs and backgrounds in the student experience.

Planned Impact

We will collaborate with over 40 partners drawn from across FMCG and Food; Creative Industries; Health and Wellbeing; Smart Mobility; Finance; Enabling technologies; and Policy, Law and Society. These will benefit from engagement with our CDT through the following established mechanisms:

- Training multi-disciplinary leaders. Our partners will benefit from being able to recruit highly skilled individuals who are able to work across technologies, methods and sectors and in multi-disciplinary teams. We will deliver at least 65 skilled PhD graduates into the Digital Economy.

- Internships. Each Horizon student undertakes at least one industry internship or exchange at an external partner. These internships have a benefit to the student in developing their appreciation of the relevance of their PhD to the external societal and industrial context, and have a benefit to the external partner through engagement with our students and their multidisciplinary skill sets combined with an ability to help innovate new ideas and approaches with minimal long-term risk. Internships are a compulsory part of our programme, taking place in the summer of the first year. We will deliver at least 65 internships with partners.

- Industry-led challenge projects. Each student participates in an industry-led group project in their second year. Our partners benefit from being able to commission focused research projects to help them answer a challenge that they could not normally fund from their core resources. We will deliver at least 15 such projects (3 a year) throughout the lifetime of the CDT.

- Industry-relevant PhD projects. Each student delivers a PhD thesis project in collaboration with at least one external partner who benefits from being able to engage in longer-term and deeper research that they would not normally be able to undertake, especially for those who do not have their own dedicated R&D labs. We will deliver at least 65 such PhDs over the lifetime of this CDT renewal.

- Public engagement. All students receive training in public engagement and learn to communicate their findings through press releases, media coverage.

This proposal introduces two new impact channels in order to further the impact of our students' work and help widen our network of partners.

- The Horizon Impact Fund. Final year students can apply for support to undertake short impact projects. This benefits industry partners, public and third sector partners, academic partners and the wider public benefit from targeted activities that deepen the impact of individual students' PhD work. This will support activities such as developing plans for spin-outs and commercialization; establishing an IP position; preparing and documenting open-source software or datasets; and developing tourable public experiences.

- ORBIT as an impact partner for RRI. Students will embed findings and methods for Responsible Research Innovation into the national training programme that is delivered by ORBIT, the Observatory for Responsible Research and Innovation in ICT (www.orbit-rri.org). Through our direct partnership with ORBIT all Horizon CDT students will be encouraged to write up their experience of RRI as contributions to ORBIT so as to ensure that their PhD research will not only gain visibility but also inform future RRI training and education. PhD projects that are predominantly in the area of RRI are expected to contribute to new training modules, online tools or other ORBIT services.

Organisations

Publications

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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/S023305/1 01/10/2019 31/03/2028
2274208 Studentship EP/S023305/1 01/10/2019 30/09/2023 Henry Cope
2274241 Studentship EP/S023305/1 01/10/2019 30/09/2023 Michael Ntinou Harmson
2278814 Studentship EP/S023305/1 01/10/2019 30/09/2023 Christine Ntinou Li
2278828 Studentship EP/S023305/1 01/10/2019 30/09/2023 Ephraim Ntinou Luwemba
2273929 Studentship EP/S023305/1 01/10/2019 30/09/2023 Edwina Edwina Abam
2278371 Studentship EP/S023305/1 01/10/2019 30/09/2023 Vincent Ivan Bryce
2279195 Studentship EP/S023305/1 01/10/2019 30/09/2023 Angela Thornton
2274214 Studentship EP/S023305/1 01/10/2019 30/09/2023 Elizabeth Dolan
2279189 Studentship EP/S023305/1 01/10/2019 30/09/2023 Cecily Pepper
2274246 Studentship EP/S023305/1 01/10/2019 30/09/2023 Eliot Jones
2274217 Studentship EP/S023305/1 01/10/2019 30/09/2023 Rebecca Gibson
2278911 Studentship EP/S023305/1 01/10/2019 30/09/2023 Ana Rita Pena