Working with Industry

The UBDC’s support for the UK Industrial Strategy and Businesses

The Urban Big Data Centre (UBDC), as part of the ESRC Big Data Network Phase 2 (BDN2) on local government and business data, has established strong ongoing relationships with a range of businesses throughout the UK and internationally, and is uniquely positioned to strengthen the UK economy as envisioned in the Industrial Strategy.

The Industrial Strategy

UBDC’s vision of “innovations for sustainable and socially just cities” supports the key pillars of the Industrial Strategy Green Paper, through innovations around investments in science, research on skills development, upgrading transport and digital infrastructure, and supporting and driving industry growth across the country. Several strands of our research aim to address regional inequalities in economic efficiency, productivity, well-being and learning outcomes across UK regions.

Our work particularly supports a focus in the Strategy on place, providing critical insights into growth and regional variations, finding patterns of business relevance in local economies, and promoting technologically transformative business practices. It addresses a range of questions for the Industrial Strategy - a far from complete list includes:

  • When long-term investments are necessary (e.g. in infrastructure, education and economic development programmes).
  • Where businesses can help local economies through growth and innovation.
  • The types of skills and training needed for a data-driven economy to lead to economic and social well-being.

We are also leaders in two of the Four Grand Challenges identified in the Industrial Strategy White Paper: in the data revolution, and in shaping the future of mobility, and we are helping UK businesses succeed in these areas.

Work with Businesses

We have helped businesses derive greater value from the power of data. Small and large businesses across the UK use our data service for urban applications and analytics in the areas of information management, mobility and transport applications, geospatial data infrastructure, and other closely related areas. Some examples:

  • We are partnering with MaaS Scotland in examining the spatial and social implications of transport automation.
  • We are working with the British Standards Institute on data interoperability and standards to support innovations around cities data.
  • With funding from Innovate UK, we are working with the SME Travelai to help develop crowdsourced transport services. See the latest update on the Catch! Project.
  • Through the NERC National Productivity Investment Fund (NPIF), on the theme of AI and Robotics, we will soon begin work with Peter Brett Associates and PTV UK, to explore changes in the spatial distribution of future jobs as a result of massive automation in work, and transitions to a future of autonomous vehicles in the UK.
  • Strava, world-leading providers of fitness apps, have designated the UBDC as their UK distributor of Strava app data for the use of research, which they see as crucial to their business model. They recently supported our UBDC Active Travel Data Challenge, and attended our hugely successful Demo Day, which attracted participants not only from the public, government bodies, cycling activist and third sector groups, but also small consultancies and large planning multinationals Sweco and Arup.

Capacity Building for Industry

A range of businesses have utilised our well-reviewed training and capacity building programmes, and have partnered with us in our public engagement and knowledge activities through data challenges, workshops and training. For example:

  • Internet of Things Meet-up: We hosted ca 30 representatives of businesses (and other bodies) with an interest in Internet of Things.
  • Training programmes and events: To date participants have attended our training programmes and events from companies including Jacobs, Clydesdale Bank, Savills and IBI Group.