Health technology

New research centre to spearhead digital health journey

Birmingham’s Aston University is developing a new research centre that will look to harness the full potential of data, machine learning, and artificial intelligence (AI) in health to propel the university to the forefront of the world’s digital transformation journey.

Backed by five newly-appointed world-leading professors, the Aston Digital Futures Institute (ADFI) will increase the number research centres at Aston to five, alongside the Aston Institute for Forensic Linguistics; the Aston Institute of Photonic Technologies; the Aston Institute of Health and Neurodevelopment; and the Energy and Bioproducts Research Institute.

The incoming professors will all have internationally-renowned expertise in AI in health, data science, bioinformatics, gamification, and digital inclusion.

With the launch expected sometime during 2023/24, the university say the vision driving the new institute is rooted in Aston’s heritage, location, and specialisms.

Ultimately, the ADFI has six main objectives, including to:

  • Boost the university’s research footprint in the digital technology space.
  • Significantly increase new research activity.
  • Reflect Aston’s identity as a ‘dual-intensive’ institution by supporting academic development and contemporary education.
  • Build and establish strategic partnerships with companies and public sector organisations in the Midlands and beyond.
  • Influence how the public views its digital future.
  • Lead the university’s contribution to economically rejuvenating Birmingham and the entire West Midlands via digital transformation.

Aston University’s Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive, Professor Aleks Subic, said: “Aston Digital Futures Institute will work at the frontier of development of the global digital economy and digital society, helping the UK create and share new value and opportunities using digital technologies.

“The establishment of the Institute represents a long-term commitment by Aston University to the digital research and innovation agenda, stretching beyond the next expected Research Excellence Framework in 2028 and well into the 2030s. It is aligned with the strategic research priorities of the university and is one of the enablers of our new 2030 strategy.

“The opportunity is to grow research capability and capacity in the digital futures space, particularly in AI in health, data science and bioinformatics, gamification and digital society.

“Digital health and MedTech have been identified alongside advanced manufacturing, gamification and professional services as critical drivers of innovation in the West Midlands. As the UK’s second-largest city, with numerous specialist large-scale hospitals, institutes, digital tech and professional services, Birmingham provides a diverse community and a prominent location to advance this agenda.

“Aston University is based in the heart of Birmingham, and within the city’s designated Knowledge Quarter, an asset-rich area bringing together academic, technical, commercial and financial resources that will drive technological innovation in digital tech and health tech.

“Our location means that we’re firmly embedded in our community. We have partnerships across the region and work with organisations ranging from cutting edge SMEs to big-name global partners. We want to attract the right people who share our ambition and enthusiasm to make a difference in the world – to lead our digital transformation research regionally, nationally and globally.”

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