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Q&A: Intel and Alan Turing Institute form strategic partnership

With Intel and the Alan Turing Institute agreeing to a long term strategic partnership, we spoke to Intel's Peter Gleissner about the aims and ambitions behind the collaboration.

  1. What does the Alan Turing Institute hope to achieve?

The aim of the Alan Turing Institute (ATI) is to push data science into the spotlight, driving interest, innovation, and ultimately helping the UK to become a world leader in data analytics. The Institute has a number of aims including:

  • Extracting knowledge, insights and predictions from large-scale and diverse digital data to make scientific discoveries
  • Develop new technologies and provide world class training,
  • Create new business opportunities and accelerate solutions to global challenges
  • Inform policy-making and improve our environment, health and infrastructure

The data scientist will have a huge impact on the way society works, and the Institute wants to support the development of the next generation of these scientists.

  1. How will the Institute help grow data talent in the UK?

The ATI will recruit 10 graduates per year who will begin their PHDs at the London HQ for the first year, before registering at one of the member universities (Cambridge, Edinburgh, Oxford, UCL and Warwick) to work on their research projects. All students will attend a variety of courses, events, workshops and meetings at the London HQ throughout their research period.

Intel will support the ATI’s PhD and Research Fellow programme, a comprehensive PhD programme designed to help bridge the skills gap, which is fundamental in the evolving global economy. Intel will also directly hire a number of individuals to work at the ATI and multiple job requisites are now posted on the Intel careers site.

  1. What do all the parties bring to the partnership?

Intel and the ATI are aiming to drive scientific and technological discoveries in the use of big data and algorithms, which will create new business opportunities, and accelerate solutions to global challenges.

Intel will contribute dedicated resources across a number of fields including life and science application engineers, social engineers, ethnographers, and other scientists to be stationed at the ATI. Intel will also provide hardware and software resources, including but not limited to Intel Xeon based workstations, Intel Software tools and access to a data centre cluster in Swindon based on Intel Xeon and Xeon Phi.

  1. Can you provide any more information about the types of scientific/technological discoveries that will be worked towards?

More details to come, for more information please speak with ATI.

  1. How will this fit in with the growing trends of big data, and the Internet of Things?

The term big data commonly refers to the rapid increase in data produced by machines and humans today, and is generally characterised by the volume, variety and velocity of the data. The key to big data though is how that data is used by a business for insight. Once the data is analysed, and one can make sense of it, our lives could be enriched in numerous ways, including through new scientific discoveries, business models and consumer experiences. We’re only starting to tap into the potential of big data. We could gain even more insights as data continues to explode based on the growth of billions of networked sensors and intelligent systems combined with maturing vendor solutions to help enterprises more easily deploy big data analytics into their environment. With the next wave of data, there will be an even greater need for open and scalable platforms that can deliver enterprise-grade performance, security and manageability to allow us to pursue its boundless opportunities.

  1. Why is data analytics so important?

The cloud is transforming businesses and data is having the potential to become increasingly valuable, in particular when it is not only stored, but also processed, analysed and acted on in real time. The effects of this can be seen even in industries you would not expect: in agriculture, practices such as tagging livestock and tracking moisture and nutrient levels in soil are adding a digital element to an industry that is centuries old.

Businesses born today are built with a digital element at their core, and gaining insight from data provides competitive advantage. Examples include personalised and contextual product and service offerings, improved operational safety and efficiency and enablement of the workforce to make faster decisions at the “point of action.”

  1. How will the role of ‘data scientist’ change over the coming years?

The data scientist is a captivating and crucial job of the 21st century. With the right combination of people and technology, big data has the potential to solve big problems in public health, medicine, science, agriculture and engineering.

Intel will gain the opportunity to work with some of the world’s leading and aspiring data scientists, enabling potential breakthroughs in key research projects. The partnership will also establish a world class training program that enables new analysts and data scientists that are fundamental to our evolving global economy. Gartner cites by 2017 there will be a shortage of over 100,000 data scientists in the job market. To really take on grand challenges, like climate, health/genome sequencing, and other industries, new models and algorithms are needed.

  1. What exciting developments does Intel see coming from the Institute?

There are a lot of big problems that this Institute can help solve, from life threatening diseases, furthering weather forecasts, to advancing industry designs. What is exciting is being able to enable the people and equip them with the right tools to tackle these big problems.

Peter Gleissner, Vice President Sales and Marketing. Managing Director European Union Region at Intel Corporation.

Image Credit: Shutterstock/Ken Wolter