The Research Councils UK Digital Economy (DE) theme is led by EPSRC and addresses the challenge of how the novel design and use of digital technologies can contribute to an innovative, healthy economy and inclusive society.
Digital Economy encompasses an extremely diverse spectrum of research, including computer science, engineering, social science, economics, the arts and medical research. The DE theme aligns four research councils, EPSRC, ESRC, MRC and AHRC, behind research with one primary objective: to create user-focused digital technologies in an increasingly interconnected world.
For example, a current multidisciplinary cross-council project is developing devices to enable individuals living in rural areas to remotely monitor their health through digital devices linked with hospitals and other facilities. In another project, researchers are developing ways to help people living in rural communities grow local businesses sustainably through the use of digital technologies. These projects could lead to a wide range of user-focused solutions, building on UK strengths in Information Communication Technologies.
The first phase of the Digital Economy theme focused on creating a new community of researchers engaged in DE activities and pioneered the DE approach of engaging users throughout the lifespan of the research. It also set priorities for the research agenda, creating opportunities for diverse groups of researchers to add value and address challenges they may not have been able to fully resolve within a single disciplinary environment.
During this Delivery Plan period, the Digital Economy theme aims to:
- Inform the research agenda and accelerate the process of translating cutting-edge research into state-of-the-art digital products and technologies
- Inform government policy towards greater and more effective nationwide integration of digital innovations
- Lead internationally in a global digital community
- Make new connections and strengthen capability, both within the research community and with users of digital products and technologies.