Page last updated at 23:37 GMT, Tuesday, 28 April 2009 00:37 UK

12m rural digital research boost


The grant will be used to improve areas like healthcare

More than £12m has been given to the University of Aberdeen to find ways of using digital technology to assisting rural communities.

The funding will look at how technology can help improve issues such as healthcare, transport and tourism.

The University of Dundee has also benefited, sharing in funding for work centred around Newcastle University.

The funding is from the Research Councils UK's (RCUK) Digital Economy Programme.

The £12.4m is the largest single grant Aberdeen has ever received, and is expected to create dozens of jobs.

This will not only harness economic potential but also change in very practical ways the lives of millions of people across the UK and beyond
Prof C Duncan Rice
University of Aberdeen

Researchers will work alongside partners including the NHS, transport firm FirstGroup, and rural business and community groups.

Prof John Farrington, of the University of Aberdeen's school of geosciences, and who will be director of the Rural Digital Economy Research Hub, said: "Untapped economic potential in rural areas is of crucial significance.

"Digital technology has a key role to play in realising this potential.

"The Rural Digital Economy Research Hub based at the University of Aberdeen will develop advances in technology which have the potential to transform how people in rural communities live and work in the future."

Prof C Duncan Rice, principal and vice-chancellor of the University of Aberdeen, said it was "an extremely important" grant.


"[It] will create 60 new posts and studentships," he said.

"It brings together experts from different disciplines to exploit rapidly-advancing digital technology and bring economic, health, and quality of life benefits to rural communities.

"This will not only harness economic potential but also change in very practical ways the lives of millions of people across the UK and beyond."

The University of Dundee will form a key part in the hub being led by Newcastle, which will address four fields where digital technologies and the building of a truly inclusive digital economy could deliver major social benefits: Connected Home & Community; Accessibility; Inclusive Transport Services; and Creative Industries.

A critical aspect of the research will be by working closely with people who are affected by social exclusion.

The team will work with a group of 3000 volunteers from the Dundee and Newcastle areas. This will include people from a range of age groups and with a variety of disabilities and learning difficulties.

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