July 11, 2022 | University Partners

University of Exeter to lead consortium for Dstl’s new Defence Data Research Centre

The University of Exeter (UoE) will lead the consortium on a new Defence Data Research Centre (DDRC), which will focus on improving the use of data for Artificial Intelligence applications.

The new Centre – launched by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) this week – is part of the UK Government’s newly released Defence AI Strategy and the newly established Defence AI Centre.

Awarded through competition and operating under the SERAPIS framework, the DDRC comprises a consortium led by the University of Exeter, supported by the Universities of Liverpool and Surrey, and the Digital Catapult.

Over the next three years, the consortium will bring together a strong combination of talent to advance the technical and cultural capabilities at Dstl in their use of data science and AI.

The Centre will focus on problems related to the use of data for Artificial Intelligence applications, which can often be inaccessible or unusable in its raw state; up to 80% of time can be spent on getting data in a state where it can be used, and some projects never start at all due to insurmountable data issues.

The principal task will be investigating these problems within a defence context, such as logistics support, object tracking and data wrangling with the expectation that any solutions and mitigations developed by the Centre could be applied elsewhere to benefit the wider UK economy.

In leading the consortium, the University of Exeter will combine its business and digital strategy expertise from the Initiative for the Digital Economy at Exeter (INDEX) with the deep data science skills of the Institute of Data Science and AI (IDSAI), to form a cross-disciplinary hub for advancing the practice of data-driven research.

The establishment of the Centre is expected to result in the creation of at least 5-8 new academic posts starting from September 2022, with the potential to grow further.

Professor Alan Brown, Director of DDRC from the University of Exeter said: “This transdisciplinary centre explicitly recognises the importance of data and the urgent need for a cross-disciplinary approach. This is a significant award for the universities involved and we are delighted to host this prestigious centre. It is an important indication that Exeter is at the forefront of driving understanding in digital transformation and its implications for key sectors of our society.”

Glen Hart, Senior Principal Scientist at Dstl said “The DDRC is an exciting addition in capability to the Defence AI Centre.  The DDRC will help us to overcome some of the barriers to using data and enable us to realise much of the hidden value of our data to better support the defence and security of the UK.  The DDRC is a unique capability in the UK Academic landscape and we look forward to working closely with them.”