BLG Data Research Centre launches new funding round for data analytics projects

The ESRC Business and Local Government Data Research Centre is set to launch a new funding round for data analytics research projects.

Funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ERSC), and based at the University of Essex, the centre is encouraging applications from healthcare organisations and companies for grant-funded research, data analytics or training from its team of experts.

For this round, organisations across the UK will also have the opportunity to benefit from a fully funded Masters student working on a challenge or research project of their choice, with the scheme providing access to the ‘next generation’ of data scientists.

A spokesperson for the centre told HTN: “We offer grant-funded research expertise to enable health organisations to benefit from the data they are collecting and answer key questions they have. We conduct funded research projects creating novel algorithms, predictive analytics, or finding hidden meaning and patterns in text. They are designed to improve practice and influence policy. We aim to empower through the use of data and enhance understanding.

“We also offer data analytics training and welcome applications from organisations of all sizes. Combing the best of our successful Data Analytics Innovation Voucher (DAIV) scheme with the well-established University of Essex Masters student placement programme, now organisations can benefit from the best of both worlds… specialist analytics expertise and the next generation of data scientists.

“The University of Essex is one of the top universities in the world for data science, so organisations will benefit from the brightest new talent in the field, as selected Masters students, mentored by top academics, work on a data-related project.”

Projects can involve either data that’s held by the organisation that applies or open-source data, while the research can be designed to address the bespoke challenges the applicant faces by using AI, machine learning or data science to provide useful insight.

The centre generally works with CCGs, NHS Trusts, charities and businesses to combine models of analytics to predict future demand, remodel patient pathways, offer data training, and combine NLP (Natural Language Processing) with AI to understand a wide variety of issues.

Examples of past and current topics/projects covered include:

  • Understanding the causes of population health decline within counties
  • Creating a customised service user experience based on data
  • How to effectively evaluate mental health and social connection benefits of coaching programmes
  • Assessing the needs of unpaid carers to create more effective support services
  • Using data to understand the impact COVID-19 lockdown measures have had on cancer rates
  • Creating health analysis for key professions for better risk management and wellbeing services
  • Improving the prescribing of opioid medication through personalised prescription data
  • Creating a predictive, queryable model, trained from historical data, that identifies patients at risk of not attending their healthcare appointments and suggesting appropriate supportive measures.

Dr Alejandro Quiroz Flores, Reader and Chief Scientific Adviser, Department of Government, Deputy Director of the Business and Local Government Data Research Centre, commented: “This is a unique opportunity for agile work with talented students under the supervision of world-leading experts in data science and AI. The framework also benefits from the centre’s unique experience working with the private and public sectors in order to deliver rigorous insight that directly contributes to meeting business goals.”

The placements commence in September 2021 with the projects being delivered over a 10-week period.  The scheme is now open for applications, with the close date 21st June 2021.

To find out more about the centre and what its data scientists can offer, read the case studies section of its website. Express interest in the scheme by emailing