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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/L015358/1
Title: EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Cloud Computing for Big Data
Principal Investigator: Watson, Professor P
Other Investigators:
Wilkinson, Professor DJ
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Arjuna Group Balfour Beatty Plc British Gas
Digital Catapult e-Therapeutics Plc Eutechnyx
IBM Ignite 100 Ltd KPA Group
Mi-Case Ltd Microsoft Neo Technology UK (Neo4J)
Newcastle City Council Newcastle Science City Northumberland County Council
Opencast Software Europe Ltd Pontifical Cath Uni of Rio Grande do Sul Red Hats Labs
TH_NK The Automobile Association AA
Department: Sch of Computer Science
Organisation: Newcastle University
Scheme: Centre for Doctoral Training
Starts: 01 May 2014 Ends: 31 October 2022 Value (£): 3,503,438
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Information & Knowledge Mgmt
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Healthcare Transport Systems and Vehicles
Information Technologies
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
23 Oct 2013 EPSRC CDT 2013 Interviews Panel J Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Cloud computing offers the ability to acquire vast, scalable computing resources on-demand. It is revolutionising the way in which data is stored and analysed. The dynamic, scalable approach to analysis offered by cloud computing has become important due to the growth of "big data": the large, often complex, datasets now being created in almost all fields of activity, from healthcare to e-commerce.

Unfortunately, due to a lack of expertise, the full potential of cloud computing for extracting knowledge from big data has rarely been achieved outside a few large companies; as a result, many organisations fail to realize their potential to be transformed through extracting more value from the data available to them.

UK industry faces a huge skills gap in this area as the demand for big data staff has risen exponentially (912%) over the past five years from 400 advertised vacancies in 2007 to almost 4,000 in 2012 (e-skills UK, Jan 2013). In addition, the demand for big data skills will continue to outpace the demand for standard IT skills, with big data vacancies forecast to increase by around 18% per annum in comparison with 2.5% for IT. Over the next five years this equates to a 92% rise in the demand for big data skills with around 132K new jobs being created in the UK (e-skills UK, Jan 2013).

While characteristics such as size, data dependency and the nature of business activity will affect the potential for organisations to realise business benefits from big data, organisations don't have to be big to have big data issues. The problems and benefits are as true for many SMEs as they are for big business which, inevitably broadens and increases the demand for cloud and big data skills. Further, even when security concerns prevent the use of external "public" clouds for certain types of data, organisations are applying the same approaches to their own internal IT resources, using virtualisation to create "private" clouds for data analysis.

Addressing these challenges requires expert practitioners who can bridge between the design of scalable algorithms, and the underlying theory in the modelling and analysis of data. It is perhaps not surprising that these skills are in short supply: traditional undergraduate and postgraduate courses produce experts in one or the other of these areas, but not both.

We therefore propose to create a multi-disciplinary CDT to fill this significant gap. It will produce multi-disciplinary experts in the mathematics, statistics and computing science of extracting knowledge from big data, with practical experience in exploiting this knowledge to solve problems across a range of application domains.

Based on a close collaboration between the School of Computing Science and the School of Mathematics and Statistics at Newcastle University, the CDT will address market requirements and overcome the existing skills barriers.

The student intake will be drawn from graduates in computing science, mathematics and statistics. Initial training will provide the core competencies that the students will require, before they collaborate in group projects that teach them to address real research challenges drawn from application domains, before moving on to their individual PhD topic. The PhD topics will be designed to allow the students to focus deeply on a real-world problem the solution of which requires an advance in the underlying computing, maths and statistics. To reinforce this focus, they will spend time on a placement hosted by an industrial or applied academic partner facing that problem. Their PhD research will therefore deepen their knowledge of the field and teach them how to exploit it to solve challenging problems.

Working in the new, custom-designed Cloud Innovation Centre, the students will derive continuous benefit from being co-located with researchers, industry experts, and their fellow students; immersing them in a group with a wide range of skills, knowledge and experiences.
Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Organisation Website: http://www.ncl.ac.uk