Towards data-centric engineering: Lloyd’s Register Foundation announces £10m offer to the Alan Turing Institute to support engineering applications of big data

December 15, 2014, London – The Lloyd’s Register Foundation, the leading UK charity supporting engineering-related research and education worldwide, today launched its Foresight review of big data and announced a conditional grant offer of £10 million over five years to support research by the Alan Turing Institute on engineering applications of big data.

The Foundation’s Foresight review of big data: towards data-centric engineering looks forward at how developments in the area of big data might impact the safety and performance of the engineering assets and infrastructure on which modern society relies, such as energy, transportation and shipping.

The report draws on the findings of an international expert advisory panel led by Prof Sir Nigel Shadbolt, Professor of Artificial Intelligence at the University of Southampton and Chairman of the Open Data Institute.

Prof Richard Clegg, Managing Director of the Lloyd’s Register Foundation said: “Our report concludes that within the next five to 10 years we are going to witness step changes in sensor technology, data-driven intelligent systems, computer science and algorithms for data analysis, impacting all aspects of the business life-cycle - from design to manufacturing, maintenance to decommissioning.

“This report sets the high-level strategic direction and funding priorities for the Foundation in the field of ‘data-centric engineering’. Big data is going to bridge the gap from monitoring 'what is' to predicting 'what if'. The Foundation intends to become a major supporter of international research in the field, partnering with organisations including the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.”

The Foundation has set out four priority action areas:

Technology road-mapping: collaborating with the research community to forecast technology developments in data-centric engineering and plan and co-ordinate efforts.

Design for data: recognising that embedded sensors, intelligent systems and data management will form part of engineering design requirements.

Codes and standards: as more data is generated, collected, transmitted, stored and manipulated by engineering systems, there is a need for assurance of the quality, traceability, security and integrity of that data.

Data analytics: developing algorithms and mathematical models for data analysis, helping make informed decisions to enhance the safety, reliability and performance of assets and infrastructure.

In support of these objectives, the Foundation has offered a conditional grant of £10 million over five years to the Alan Turing Institute for the purpose of supporting its research in the engineering applications of big data. The outputs and benefits would be aimed at enhancing the safety, reliability and performance of the major infrastructure on which modern society relies, in line with the Foundation’s charitable aims.

UK Chancellor George Osborne confirmed in his autumn statement that the Alan Turing Institute, named in honour of the wartime code breaker, will be headquartered at The British Library in London.  

The UK government has committed a total of £42 million to March 2020 to help fund the new internationally-recognised institute to lead research, education and knowledge transfer in the data sciences. The Institute will provide a national centre to promote advanced research and translational work in the application of data science. 

The Foundation is a global charity so international collaboration and engagement is critical. The Foundation recognises the Institute will fulfil a role at the centre of an international network, collaborating with other world-leading centres.

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) is responsible for delivering the £42 million Institute and realising its ambition. Prof Philip Nelson, CEO of the EPSRC said: “We warmly welcome the Foundation’s generous grant offer. 

“The Alan Turing Institute is set to be another great example of collaborative work. It will help support further data science research in areas in which we have already invested and for which the UK has an excellent pedigree.

“Big data has huge potential to impact all areas of society and the economy and investment in research will help realise that potential.”

Speaking at the launch of the Foundation’s big data report, Prof Sir Mark Walport, Government Chief Scientific Adviser said “The Lloyd’s Register Foundation has today shone a spotlight on how big data is increasingly central to the design and management of the engineered world. Their £10 million grant offer to the Alan Turing Institute will build knowledge and skills that will not only make that engineered world a safer one, but will also support growth and public service provision."

Download: Foresight review of big data

About the Lloyd’s Register Foundation

The Lloyd’s Register Foundation: Connecting science, safety and society

The Lloyd’s Register Foundation is a UK charity, established in 2012, which funds the advancement of engineering-related education and research and supports work that enhances safety of life at sea, on land and in the air. It is funded partly by the profits of its trading arm, Lloyd’s Register Group Limited, a global engineering, technical and business services organisation.

Its vision is to be known worldwide as a leading supporter of engineering-related research, training and education that makes a real difference in improving the safety of the critical infrastructure on which modern society relies.  In support of this, it promotes scientific excellence and acts as a catalyst working with others to achieve maximum impact.

The Lloyd’s Register Foundation’s strategy for 2014-2020 focuses funding on four strategic themes: promoting safety and public understanding of risk; advancing skills and education; supporting excellent scientific research; and accelerating the application of research. Four research themes have been prioritised: structural integrity and systems performance; resilience engineering; human and social factors; and emergent technologies. See more at: www.lrfoundation.org.uk/strategy

In 2013/14, the first full year of operation as the Lloyd’s Register Foundation, the charity awarded grants of £17.2 million. It funds 61 programmes in 19 countries, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Finland, Greece, India, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Malta Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, UK, and USA. Specific research undertaken covers marine and offshore deep water engineering, geo-technics, materials performance, transport systems, environmental, Arctic and nuclear.

The Foundation published its first expert panel report on nanotechnology in August 2014 and issued an international call for research proposals, resulting in submissions from 18 of the world’s top 50 universities, including submissions from the world’s top five universities and a Nobel Prize winner. Three preparatory grants have been awarded and the Foundation expects to award full grants in Q2 2015 totalling £9 million.

On the skills and education front, the Lloyd’s Register Foundation has awarded dozens of grants connected with vocational training, school clubs, pre-university and university education.

For media enquiries please contact Mark Stokes, Communications Director on +44 (0)7825 734991 or mark.stokes@lr.org

www.lrfoundation.org.uk

About EPSRC

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) is the UK’s main agency for funding research in engineering and the physical sciences. EPSRC invests around £800 million a year in research and postgraduate training, to help the nation handle the next generation of technological change. 

The areas covered range from information technology to structural engineering, and mathematics to materials science.

This research forms the basis for future economic development in the UK and improvements for everyone’s health, lifestyle and culture. EPSRC works alongside other Research Councils with responsibility for other areas of research. 

The Research Councils work collectively on issues of common concern via Research Councils UK. 

For media enquiries please contact the EPSRC Press Office on +44 (0)1793 444451 or pressoffice@epsrc.ac.uk

www.epsrc.ac.uk

For media enquiries contact  

Mark Stokes  
Group Communications Director  
Lloyd’s Register Group Services Limited  
T +44 (0)20 7423 1725  
mark.stokes@lr.org        

Lloyd's Register Foundation  
71 Fenchurch Street, London EC3M 4BS, UK  
T +44 (0)20 7709 9166  E news@lr.org

Lloyd’s Register Foundation is a registered charity (Reg. no. 1145988) and limited company (Reg. no. 7905861) registered in England and Wales, and owner of Lloyd’s Register Group Limited. Registered Office: 71 Fenchurch Street, London, EC3M 4BS, United Kingdom