UK Government announces �36m funding for digital hubs

The UK Government has announced funding for three technology hotspots around the UK to transform the lives of the elderly, the disabled, and people in rural communities.

The new research hubs, funded by The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), will be based in Nottingham, Newcastle and Aberdeen universities.

Three UK universities have been awarded £36m to investigate how digital technology can benefit elderly people and disabled people and those living in rural areas.

The money will be used to establish centres - known as rural digital economy research hubs - at Aberdeen, Newcastle and Nottingham universities.

The research is intended to improve sectors such as healthcare and transport, and help stimulate economic growth.

Aberdeen University will focus on rural issues such as access to broadband, health and public transport, and natural resource to transform rural areas.

The Nottingham hub will concentrate on creative industries such as Internet and mobile phone gaming; as well as online smart marketing tools for retailers. One project the centre is working on is a social networking designed to encourage car sharing – and thus reducing carbon levels.

The Newcastle hub will focus on technologies that promote inclusivity – with older people in mind. The researchers plan to work with the elderly and the disabled to design interfaces tailored to their needs.

Lord Drayson, Minister for Science and Innovation, said: "The hubs will develop new technologies using wireless networks and GPS, which will deliver high-tech digital solutions across many sectors. They will create jobs, improve public services such as health and transport, reduce waste and bring digital revolution into people's lives for the first time."

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