Thumbs up for £3.5m Data Innovation Accelerator

Economy Secretary Ken Skates has unveiled a £3.5 million project that’ll help Welsh companies utilise data science research and analytics to create innovative products.

The Data Innovation Accelerator is being funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) through the  Welsh Government and developed by Cardiff University.

Its aim is to take data science and analytics knowledge from Cardiff University and inject it into small to medium-sized businesses to help them develop and grow.

Through the project, researchers will team up with companies specialising in areas such as ICT, cyber security, advanced materials, energy and eco-innovation.

“I am proud that the Welsh Government is supporting this exciting Data Innovation Accelerator which will bridge the link between research and business so that companies on the ground can benefit from some of the innovative and groundbreaking research undertaken in Wales,” said Skates.

“The project is very much in line with our  Economic Action Plan, which sets out a clear whole Government approach to supercharging the hi-tech businesses of the future.

“The £1.86m from the ERDF through Welsh Government will help SMEs in Wales to flourish, creating high-quality data science jobs and helping to  develop exciting new products and services that can be used in Wales and throughout the world.”

To kickstart the project this autumn, Cardiff University’s School of Computer Science and Informatics has begun searching for eight data scientists and experts.

DIA co-director Professor Roger Whitaker, college dean of research and professor of collective intelligence, said the project will aid the growth of the Welsh tech sector.

“The DIA will help exploit a growing opportunity for greater economic exploitation of data-driven analysis and machine intelligence in businesses, using a targeted approach aligned to sector strengths in Wales,” he said.

The DIA, which is expected to launch in November, will operate within the Data Innovation Research Institute at Cardiff University.

Fellow DIA co-director Dr Pete Burnap added: “The DIA will fill a gap in the current ‘data science eco-system’ in Wales. Schemes exist to support undergraduate qualifications, graduate mentoring, and help bigger businesses buy in expertise.

“But no provision currently exists to systematically build Data Science awareness, capacity and skills with SMEs in Wales.

“SMEs do not have the scale of resources available to the public sector or large companies to ‘trial’ new ways of working, or invest in unproven business transformation underpinned by data science. DIA seeks to address this gap.”