Digital Economy Theme strategy

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, law, the arts and medical research. The DE theme aligns three research councils, EPSRC, ESRC, and AHRC, behind research with one primary objective: to create user-focused digital technologies in an increasingly interconnected world.

Since the DE Theme’s inception in 2008, the prevalence of digital technology has increased markedly. Computing has become ubiquitous and pervasive; digital is everywhere. The implications of transformational digital technologies for the economy, culture, society and policy are wide-ranging.  During this delivery plan, EPSRC is committed to supporting research that will lead to a more Connected Nation. Digital Economy research will be central to achieving this Outcome, with its holistic approach to people-centred, user-driven, co-created research into transformational uses of digital 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. This approach will continue into the current delivery plan. The DE Theme will continue to work with the academic and user community across a wide variety of disciplines and sectors to determine and define research challenges around transformational uses of digital technologies.  Applications of the research and skills we support cross many sectors.  These include Energy, Transport, Manufacturing, Health and Care, Creative and Cultural and Service Industries (particularly those driven by data such as Retail, Insurance, Financial and Advertising).