Research Councils UK Digital Economy Theme

The Research Councils UK Digital Economy Theme (DET) is supporting The Conversation to help it to cover the digital economy more extensively. This is an area that has both huge societal impact and potential to help growth of the UK Economy.

It is an area that plays strongly to UK Government initiatives including the recently published Information Economy Strategy; this sets out why digital applications such as “The Internet of Things” (which will see increased deployment of always connected always on devices and which is at the core of future development of the next generation of the Internet) and Big Data (which will allow the better use of data intelligently to enable a step change in converting data to knowledge, to provide insight and value) have the potential to transform business and organisations, and support the UK’s strong research base, by driving innovation and economic growth.

The DET funds research to rapidly realise the transformational impact of digital technologies on aspects of community life, cultural experiences, future society, and the economy. In order to achieve this, Digital Economy research aims to address four challenge areas:

  • Sustainable Society: In sustainable societies of the future, people will be able to make informed choices. Improved delivery of information and services will foster changes in behaviour to minimise the negative impact of our activities.
  • Communities and Culture: Communities, participation and culture are changing in the digital age. It is important that we ensure digital interaction enhances, not replaces face to face interactions.
  • New Economic Models: In an increasingly global economy, as new companies and individuals use digital technologies to innovate, the market can change rapidly. New business models are being created to adapt and take advantage of the opportunities in the digital world.
  • IT as a Utility: Digital infrastructure should be so simple, accessible and reliable that it seems invisible. In delivering this, questions need to be answered about whether people will trust it, how to ensure privacy is respected and how to pay for it.

These challenges are at the heart of DE research and provide a focus for managed activities of the theme.