Imperial College London

What’s next for UK research? Data Science Institute’s 5th birthday lecture

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A lecture by former science minister David Willetts marked the DSI’s first ever annual lecture, and its fifth birthday.

The event was the last in a series of lectures given to mark the Institute’s milestone.

We are very proud of the DSI’s accomplishments. Its academics have built strong networks and collaborations, in the UK and abroad, with governments, academia, and industry. Professor Alice Gast President, Imperial College London

By 2027, the UK Government wants 2.4 per cent of GDP to be in invested in research and development (R&D).

The Rt Hon. Lord Willetts FRS, speaking at Imperial’s South Kensington campus on 4 November 2019, outlined a ‘road map’ for how to achieve this, relating to the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)’s Industrial Strategy.

The former Universities and Science Minister opened with a review of UK R&D policy, and discussed the Industrial Strategy and its relation to the ‘road map’ of how to reach the 2.4 per cent goal.

Lord Willetts said: “To understand the problems we want to solve, we must assess the institutional arrangement and economic incentives to do so.”

Anatomy of an Industrial Strategy

"(We can) improve the infrastructure and framework for the data science community...I will join you in this challenge.” Lord David Willetts

The four cornerstones of the Industrial Strategy, Lord Willetts said, are business sectors, places, challenges to solve, and key technologies.

Current challenges, he said, are growing issues like antimicrobial resistance and climate change.

He cited big data, robotics, space, cell therapies, synthetic biology, technology in agriculture (agritech), advanced materials, and energy storage as key R&D priorities.

Lord Willetts also outlined the central role of AI, cloud computing, and data science – and why this alone will require significant new investment in infrastructure and in skills.

Lord Willetts said he hopes we can: “improve the infrastructure and framework for the data science community...I will join you in this challenge.”

Professor Alice Gast
Professor Alice Gast introduces Lord Willetts

Imperial's President Professor Alice Gast said: “We are very proud of the DSI’s accomplishments. Its academics have built strong networks and collaborations, in the UK and abroad, with governments, academia, and industry.

"Its unique facilities, like the data observatory, are hubs of activity that bring together academics from varied disciplines who want to understand and unlock their data.”

Director of the Institute Professor Yike Guo said: "It was a great honour to have Lord Willetts present our birthday lecture. I am immensely proud of the DSI and what we, as a College rich in knowledge of data science, computing and mathematics, have achieved over the past five years. DSI researchers have published over 300 papers and, thanks to its many research collaborations both across Imperial and with a variety of academic and industry partners, the DSI has established itself as an international hub on data science."

  • Professor Yike Guo (R), Lord David Willetts (second L), and guests

    Professor Yike Guo (R), Lord David Willetts (second L), and guests

  • Guests discuss poster presentations after the lecture

    Guests discuss poster presentations after the lecture

  • Photo of guests gathered around a poster presentation

    Guests discuss poster presentations after the lecture

  • Guests discuss poster presentations after the lecture

    Guests discuss poster presentations after the lecture

  • Lord Willetts giving his lecture
  • Professor Yike Guo (R), Lord David Willetts (second L), and guests chatting and smiling
  • Professor Yike Guo (R), Lord David Willetts (second L), and guests chatting and smiling

    Professor Yike Guo (R), Lord David Willetts (second L), and guests

Professor Yike Guo (R), Lord David Willetts (second L), chatted to guests after the lecture




Lord David Willetts speaking at the lectureLord Willetts is the President of the Resolution Foundation. He served as the Member of Parliament for Havant (1992-2015), as Minister for Universities and Science (2010-2014) and previously worked at HM Treasury and the No.10 Policy Unit.

Lord Willetts is a visiting Professor at King’s College London, a Board member of UKRI, a Board member of Surrey Satellites and of the Biotech Growth Trust. He is the Chair of the Sanger Institute and the Chair of Foundation for Science and Technology. He is an Honorary Fellow of Nuffield College, an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society and the Chancellor of the University of Leicester.

Lord Willetts has written widely on economic and social policy. His book “A University Education” is published by Oxford University Press. A second edition of his book on the Boomers and the young generation “The Pinch” will be published in November 2019.

Reporter

Caroline Brogan

Caroline Brogan
Communications and Public Affairs

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Tel: +44 (0)20 7594 3415
Email: caroline.brogan@imperial.ac.uk

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