Alan Turing will have a new Big Data institute named after him

Budget: Big Data institute dedicated to Turing

A new institute dedicated to Big Data research will be named after computer pioneer and Second World War codebreaker Alan Turing.

The Alan Turing Institute is the headline project in a new £222m Government science package announced in today’s Budget speech, with Osborne saying the institute was being founded in honour of a man "who was persecuted for his sexuality by the country he helped to save".

During the Second World War Turing’s work at code-breaking centre at Bletchley Park helped shorten the conflict but he was subsequently convicted for being homosexual. Last December he was given a posthumous Royal Pardon.

The new centre named after him will undertake research into methods of collecting, organising and analysing large sets of data and universities will be given the opportunity to bid to host the new national facility, which will receive £42m of Government support over five years.

Osborne told MPs: "In my maiden speech here in this House I spoke of Alan Turing, the codebreaker who lived in my constituency, who did more than almost any other single person to win the war, and who was persecuted for his sexuality by the country he helped save.

"I am delighted that he has finally received a posthumous Royal Pardon. Now, in his honour, we will found the Alan Turing Institute to ensure Britain leads the way again in the use of big data and algorithm research."

The Centre for Economics and Business Research estimates that the big data market place could inject £216bn into the UK economy and create 58,000 new jobs by 2017 and a recent report from financial consultants Deloitte suggests that the direct value of public sector information alone to the UK economy is around £1.8bn per year.

University and Science Minister David Willetts said: "Creating a world-class institute dedicated to data science will secure the UK's place as a global leader in this field and bring significant future benefits to the UK's economy and society. The pioneering work carried out at the institute will be a fitting tribute to Alan Turing."

A further £74m of the science budget will go towards a new cell therapy manufacturing centre and graphene innovation centre to  provide large-scale manufacturing of cell therapies for late-stage clinical trials, and assist the research and development of novel graphene products.

The remaining £106m will fund around 20 new centres for doctoral training. In each case, funding will be spread over five years.

Sir Paul Nurse, president of the Royal Society, the UK's premier academic institution, said: "This government has shown consistent support for science. It recognises that research is the seed corn for innovation and that is key to long term sustainable economic growth.

"Investment in our best scientists and scientific research is an investment in the UK's future and now that we are seeing signs of economic recovery it is the time to provide even greater support for our science."

Professor Lesley Yellowlees, president of the Royal Society of Chemistry, said: "The Chancellor's announcement of £222m for doctoral training centres, a new Turing Institute and to commercially exploit scientific advances is welcome. Mr Osborne rightly recognises that a strong science base is essential for continued economic growth.

"But despite this announcement and last week's commitment to fund scientific infrastructure projects, the UK continues to lag behind the international competition when it comes to government investment in science.

"More than individual funding for 'announceable' projects we need a long-term funding pipeline and a strategy for investment in research to instil confidence in the security of our research ecosystem."

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