EPSRC launched a set of cross-ICT priorities in 2012 which have been successful in changing community behaviours and building critical mass in areas of national importance, and will remain the Theme's priority's until early 2017.
As part of the Balancing Capability exercise to refresh the research area rationales and trajectories, EPSRC has developed a new set of priorities for ICT researchers to consider when applying for grants from early 2017. These priorities will run for the remainder of the Delivery Plan (2016-2020). This webpage gives a high level description of these new priorities which will be expanded on in the coming months.
We wish to stimulate and encourage research that aims to address these priorities and recognise that researchers from many of the research areas in the landscape (including those beyond ICT) can and should contribute and work together to do so.
We use a combination of strategies to deliver the ICT Theme's goals. Strategies have been developed at both the individual Research Area level and also as broader Cross-ICT priorities. The priorities identified for the current delivery plan have been developed following a series of community discussions, workshops and with input from the ICT Strategic Advisory Team.
The New and emerging areas cross-theme priority is to encourage researchers to work on truly transformative concepts and technologies within and beyond currently recognisable ICT space. To be 'new and emerging' an area needs to comprise something more than an advance, however significant, within an established field. It must be genuinely disruptive, offering real potential to significantly alter current practise in research or industry. Broadly speaking we might see new and emerging ideas in ICT arising in two ways: grown within the ICT research landscape or introduced into it from other themes.
People engage with and are impacted by ICT, from electronics to communication systems to computer science, in a number of ways as commissioners, users and often without even knowing it. The 'People at the Heart of ICT' priority encourages the development of better ICT by asking researchers to acknowledge the relationship that people have with ICT and ICT-enabled systems and the impact these technologies can have on people. We are asking researchers to consider these relationships and impacts throughout the research process from planning to implementation. Researchers are asked to move beyond abstract notions of 'the user' and instead develop a more detailed and realistic understanding of the stakeholders in their research and what solutions which address people's needs look like.
Modern life relies increasingly on its digital dimension. We are highly dependent on connected information systems and our dependence exposes us to risks as individuals, communities, organisations and societies. The Safe and secure ICT priority encourages the researchers that we support, whatever their discipline, to consider how they can contribute to the development of information and communication technologies that are reliable and robust in the face of accidents, malice or unpredictable events. A mix of technical, socio-technical and human-centric approaches will be required to achieve this aim.
The Future Intelligent Technologies (FIT) priority promotes research which aims to develop intelligent, adaptive or autonomous systems that can learn, adapt and make decisions without the need for human control.
This priority focuses on new methods to help support people making decisions in a world that is becoming ever more data rich. The priority will require an integrated approach in which every element reflects the ultimate need for the outputs of that process to in some way benefit a person making a decision. This will include, but not be limited to, data wrangling, data analytics, interaction with data and data visualisation. The data in question will often be complex, incomplete and/or mixed mode. There could also be opportunities for work on hardware and computer architectures for enabling faster, more efficient or even real-time decision making.
'Cross-disciplinarity and co-creation' encourages collaboration between disciplines and with users of research. It focuses on the benefits of cooperation and partnership during the development of new research ideas as well as in the research process itself. The ICT landscape has rich opportunities for closer working between disciplines. Many of the most exciting opportunities emerge at the interfaces between established areas. Co-creation approaches will help ensure that the problems being tackled and the opportunities being explored within the EPSRC ICT portfolio are well-framed and clearly understood.