Digital Innovation for Economic Resilience and Productivity

To celebrate the successes of the Hartree National Centre for Digital Innovation so far, we hosted an event to explore the connection between digital innovation, economic resilience and productivity.

A photo of event speakers Mark Thomson, Sreeram Visvanathan, Kate Royse, Peter Waggett and David Bunton
Speakers at the event included Mark Thomson (STFC), Sreeram Visvanathan (IBM), Kate Royse (STFC Hartree Centre), Peter Waggett (IBM Research) and David Bunton (Reprocell).

On 1 November 2022, the Hartree Centre hosted Digital Innovation for Economic Resilience, a collaborative event at IBM London exploring how digital innovation in industry can amplify the UK’s economic resilience, productivity and growth. The event showcased pioneering digital innovation stories, brought to life through case studies and demos, from the Hartree National Centre for Digital Innovation to find out how UK industry is using advanced supercomputing, data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) to achieve its productivity and sustainability goals.

Delegates were welcomed by Sreeram Visvanathan, General Manager for IBM UK&I, who expressed his belief that we are on the cusp of the next wave of accelerated innovation.

“Digital technologies have a massive role to play in the journey of economic resilience and industry transformation in the UK. The winners in industry over the next few years will be using digital technology in innovative ways.”

Sreeram Visvanathan, General Manager for IBM UK&I

Mark Thomson, Executive Chair of the Science and Technology Facilities Council, then introduced some of the current challenges in UK industry and how the Hartree Centre is equipped to address them as part of the wider UK Research and Innovation network.

“You have to make the best use of your data assets and be globally competitive to survive in challenging economic times. We have the tools for unlocking value, and we have the data – we just need to use it. Solving even seemingly small data challenges can make a big impact.”

Mark Thomson, Executive Chair of the Science and Technology Facilities Council

Kate Royse, Director of the Hartree Centre, discussed how we can maintain the UK’s leadership in digital innovation and showcased successes from the Hartree National Centre for Digital Innovation programme so far.

“It doesn’t matter where you are in the business ecosystem, no matter what size, we are here to help you. The power of our partnership with IBM gives us unique insights and ways of thinking that we use to benefit UK industry as a whole.”

Kate Royse, Director of the Hartree Centre

Peter Waggett, Director of Research, IBM UK, explained that the need for research and innovation has never been more urgent than it is now, relating this sentiment to the recent example of COVID-19 and climate change. He explained how emerging technologies like AI and quantum computing will take industries in every sector into the future.

“It typically takes roughly 10 years and £10-100 million to discover one new material. We aim to cut both time and cost by 90% which really is a huge step-change for productivity.”

Peter Waggett, Director of Research IBM

As a business that is working with the Hartree National Centre for Digital Innovation, David Bunton, CEO of Reprocell talked about how they are accessing AI expertise to enhance precision medicine.

“In the era of precision medicine, we’re trying to tailor right drug to right patient at right time with the right dose. We need to unleash the value of healthcare data to benefit patients and we need data-savvy leaders and partnerships that can add skills and technologies to your business.”

David Bunton, CEO of Reprocell

When asked if working with the HNCDI programme was a “nice to have” or necessary as an enabler to achieve Reprocell’s goals, David described it as:

“It’s essential. We don’t have our own in-house expertise in AI so we absolutely need HNCDI to help us make use of the right digital technologies.”

Scott Singleton, Platform Leader Advanced Measurement and Data Modelling at Unilever closed the industry talks with an exploration of how Unilever is achieving sustainable innovation through digital approaches and included a glowing review of the Hartree Centre’s work with the company so far:

“We go to the Hartree Centre because we trust them, they have real capabilities and understand industry needs. They aren’t just a computing partner, they are a science partner.”

Scott also extolled the virtues of listening to consumers and using any available consumer data, including social media, to gain insights into what is working and what isn’t.

Scott Singleton, Unilever
Scott Singleton explains how Unilever are working with the Hartree Centre to take advantage of advanced digital technologies for more sustainable innovation.

The event closed with a tour of “Digital Innovation Demos” demonstrating how sectors including transport, materials and environment can enhance their economic resilience using pioneering digital solutions:

  • Transport & Logistics | Route Optimisation using Quantum Computing
  • Chemistry & Materials | AI screening for advanced materials
  • Energy & Environment | Scalable AI flood risk mapping
Tseden Taddese speaking about AI screening for advanced materials
Tseden Taddese presents a demo of AI screening for advanced materials discovery.

As part of the event, the Hartree National Centre for Digital Innovation announced that we will be launching a call for projects in the materials sector, in collaboration with the Knowledge Centre for Materials Chemistry (KCMC). Expressions of interest will open on 18 November 2022, so watch this space!

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