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October 16, 2014

University of Reading to invest £20m in the big data market

New centre to drive analytics and data scientist skills in environmental science.

By Amy-Jo Crowley

The University of Reading is investing £20m in a big data research centre in efforts to help the UK unlock value in the big data market.

The centre, expected to launch in early 2015, aims to identify growth opportunities in environmental science by developing data scientist methods and computational tools for using big data.

The university, which is a leading centre for environmental science, will train students and researchers to spot patterns into complex environmental datasets.

With this insight, the facility hopes to tackle climate change, the global food crisis and the impact of extreme weather conditions on the economy.

University of Reading Vice-Chancellor Sir David Bell said: "We know that industry is often frustrated that they do not have access to the latest science, and all too often academics find they do not know how to commercialise the cutting-edge research they do.

"This new centre will address this innovation gap, unlocking the potential of the UK’s world-leading environmental science research base to drive innovation, economic growth and jobs. It will also build a cadre of highly-skilled analysts – with industrial experience, business nous and outstanding scientific expertise."

As part of the £20m project, the university secured £5.6m in funding from the Higher Education Funding Council for England to "pump-prime" the project over the next five years. Another £7.15m is also being contributed from a consortium of 13 partners, led by the university – which aims to leverage at least £20 million of new investment by 2020.

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