UCL: UCL collaborates with Amazon Web Services to accelerate digital innovation

The UCL CDI, powered by AWS, is today sending out its first call for engagement via the Impact Accelerator, a programme offered by UCL and AWS which aims to boost startups by providing advice, education and funding initiatives. The call is open to all healthcare and education organisations, as well as research teams, startups and UCL’s technology spinouts.

Projects should look to solve a global issue in health or education using cloud computing and have a real user and customer in mind. For example, a project focused on precision medicine which uses cloud computing to analyse and derive insights from data to generate patient prognostics, or a project which uses technology to reinvent the evaluation and marking process in education.

The UCL CDI will give successful applicants access to training, education and technical support, including access to a resident AWS Solutions Architect, domain experts in health tech and ed tech, and immersion days on specialist topics. The team will help successful applicants to build a product prototype or help to design it for scalability if one already exists. AWS will also provide AWS Credits of up to $500,000 (around £370,000) per year to help fund the development of the prototypes and new solutions.

The sectors were chosen because UCL’s research excellence in healthcare and education means the UCL CDI stands to have real impact in these areas.

UCL CDI Director Graça Carvalho (UCL Faculty of Engineering Sciences) said: “This ambitious collaboration brings together the strength of UCL and AWS to build trust within digital innovation, allowing hospitals, universities, patients, students, research teams and UCL spinouts to use cloud-based technology to compete on a global stage.

“UCL will benefit from AWS’ ‘working backwards’ innovation methodology and the world’s most comprehensive and broadly adopted cloud offering, and we, in turn, hope to support AWS through our strong evidence base that demonstrates the importance of digital innovation within the health and education sectors to increase efficiencies and offer truly personalised intelligent products and services.”

The centre will be hosted at IDEALondon in Shoreditch, a UCL technology hub and innovation centre that supports startups with space, advice and access to funding and talent.

John Davies, Director, Regional Government, UK, Worldwide Public Sector at AWS, added: “We are delighted to collaborate with UCL to launch the UCL CDI, powered by AWS. We have a long history of working with startups and university spinouts in healthcare and education who choose to use AWS because we help them build virtually anything they can imagine at every stage of their journey, and they trust us to innovate quickly on their behalf.

“By bringing together UCL’s world renowned academic rigour with AWS’ cloud technologies and culture of innovation, we hope to provide healthcare and education organisations with a springboard to help them to address some of the toughest challenges facing society right now.”

UCL’s reputation in research excellence was a key driver behind the collaboration. The university will draw on expertise from several faculties including Medical Sciences, IOE, Engineering and Life Sciences, and experts from UCLH.

As part of the collaboration, UCL will also open a call for PhD studentships for the academic year beginning in September 2022. These can be focused on four main research topics –innovation, healthcare, education and innovative infrastructures. The studentships will be supported by a donation from AWS, and UCL will nominate an academic committee that will award the studentships.

UCL Pro-Vice-Provost (AI), Professor Geraint Rees, said: “Innovative digital solutions to the world’s problems are best created in collaboration between academic and commercial organisations. The UCL CDI, powered by AWS, combines the best of both domains. We believe that this combined endeavour will lead us to solutions that are evidence based, commercially sustainable and focus on the needs of the world’s citizens.”

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