Tagged / innovate

Big data – helping cities solving planning challenges


A data platform developed with support of Innovate UK is helping big cities to plan services such as transport, education and housing.

A data science business is helping London to plan its services thanks to a new decision-making platform. Mastodon C won a £2 million SBRI (Small Business Research Initiative) contract in a ‘future cities’ competition to find ways of meeting the challenges faced by urban areas.

Mastodon C is working with the Greater London Authority to develop and test its Witan platform in a project supported by Innovate UK.

Witan provides modelling tools and data management processes to help solve real challenges faced by cities and their partners, and is already being used by 33 London boroughs. Witan is being used by the London boroughs to see how latest housing projections will affect the spread of population up to 2041. The work used to take specialist staff weeks to do but can now be generated in minutes. The results will help council officials to plan many services including where the demand is likely to be for services such as school places, waste disposal, and housing.

Francine Bennett, chief executive and co-founder of Mastodon C, said: “Our motto is ‘big data done better’. That has two meanings. What we do with big data, we do very well technically. We are also interested in better applications of big data and data science, building applications that improve people’s lives as well as work for the business.”

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Research, Innovate, Grow – RCUK’s vision for future investment in the UK research base

Research Councils UK  (RCUK) has articulated its vision for future investment in the UK research base, adopting the slogan “Research, Innovate, Grow” as an encapsulation of its current and future purpose.

RCUK, the UK’s biggest investors in public sector research, are committed to ensuring the UK remains the best place in the world to do research, innovate and grow business.  “Strong, sustained investment in the UK research base is essential to strengthen and let fly the excellence, creativity and impact of the UK’s world leading researchers, innovators and businesses. Only by doing this will we be able to address the challenges facing our society today and create the opportunities for business growth in the future,” said Professor Rick Rylance, Chair of RCUK.

Going forward RCUK will:

  • shape a world-leading research base with strength across disciplines
  • accelerate innovation and impact from this excellent research base
  • collaborate and co-invest with Innovate UK and other partners in the research and innovation ecosystem
  • drive new multidisciplinary research programmes
  • work together to maximise impact and further drive efficiency

“The world-leading UK research base attracts and retains global businesses in the UK and establishes the positive environment to generate new businesses and enable them to grow. This drives industrial sectors and enables national and regional economic growth,” Prof  Rylance said. “The breadth, quality and richness of the UK research base is unique. It enables us to address society’s challenges and business opportunities across the spectrum. It is a very precious resource and a superb advantage for the UK. We need to invest now to secure its future. We will be investing not just for now but for our children.”

RCUK is determined to build on this position through: 

  • sustained long-term investment in the research base
  • leveraging the UK’s position at the centre of the global research network
  • realising the full potential of the UK innovation ecosystem

“RCUK will continue to invest in the creation of new knowledge and drive innovation,” said Professor  Jackie Hunter, RCUK Impact Champion. “The collective ambition of the Research Councils is to maintain and further enhance the UK’s leading position as THE best place in the world to do research, innovate and grow a business. Only by doing this can the benefits of the research investment already made be secured, maximizing the UK research base’s contribution towards the creation of a strong economy and societal benefit now and in the future.”

The UK has 1% of the global population and only 3% of global funding for research yet produces 16% of the world’s most highly cited papers. Almost half of research articles published by UK researchers have international co-authors. Four of the world’s top 10 universities are in the UK. The Research Councils drive and enable researchers, business and partners to create knowledge and innovation for society, industry, Government and the third sector. RCUK funded researchers are more likely to collaborate with business than those funded through any other route.  The Research Councils co-deliver research and innovation with more than 2,500 businesses.

If you would like to contribute to the Nurse review of research councils, please see the blog post setting out BU procedure and deadlines.