Digital Capabilities

“Digital is transformational; put simply its adoption will boost productivity, support UK businesses to create good jobs and increase the earning power of people in many industries”

UK Industrial Strategy, 2018

The Digital future

The digital revolution has initiated the fourth Industrial Revolution,disrupting all industry sectors and fundamentally altering the way we live and work. The Government’s Digital Strategy, embedded within the wider Industrial Strategy outlines how to put our country at the forefront of that revolution and continue being a world leader in key technologies.

As pioneers of research and product development, and education of a future-proofed workforce, universities are vital to securing the country’s place as a global digital leader.

We are working with 5 other innovative and entrepreneurial universities and a collaborative partner of Midlands Enterprise Universities. Bringing together our expertise to meet the challenges of the digital future and to deliver the ambitions of the Industrial Strategy and Midlands Engine’s vision.

Digital Capabilities, Joining Forces to Create Solutions

Applied Computing

Applied computing underpins all aspects of digital activity, fueling development in emerging areas such as robotics, autonomous systems and connected devices.

Our key capabilities

How we are using our research?

Big data analytics examines large amounts of data to uncover hidden patterns, correlations and other insights.

Whether their focus is on climate change, healthcare or autonomous vehicles, our researchers are using data analytics to answer challenging questions.

Case study: Virtual prototypes 

Traditional design processes can be expensive and time consuming, especially for something as complicated as an engine. Every modification needs a prototype built and tested for the desired effect.

The University of Derby’s big data researchers have a different method. They can create a data view of an engine, then use that data to power a virtual reality model. Their algorithms can control output or check things like predictive maintenance and any changes take just minutes, not months.

The large manufacturing company involved in the project gets something much more valuable than numbers from their data. They obtain something tangible and visible that helps them innovate at record speed.

And the future? The next step for the research team is to use data-generating devices as more than just sources. If those devices could become computers to process that data, the possibilities are even more exciting.

“This will allow us to not only capture the data, but also process it at the source in real time. The biggest bottleneck in processing data is not the algorithms we use; it is that there is too much redundant data collected in the first place, so being able to process it at the source would allow us to filter out everything that is weak, noisy or simply not required. And if the data is good, we will be able to produce something truly useful.”

Professor Ashiq Anjum, Professor of Distributed Systems

Health and Social Care

The Industrial Strategy identifies our ageing society as one of its Grand Challenges. Longer life expectancy and lower birth rates mean that one in three children born in the UK today can expect to live to 100*. That will create demands in health and social care for new products and practices.
Through its Healthy Ageing programme, the Government aims to bring together businesses and researchers to develop ways to tackle loneliness and increase independence and wellbeing.

Our key capabilities

How are we using our research?

Assistive and wearable technology means older generations can live and work longer – independently and safely. Smart diabetic insoles, tools to help people with dementia to stay socially connected, or clothes with in-built healthcare sensors all benefit people with healthcare needs.

Case study: Smart insole for diabetics

Because diabetes can affect blood supply to the nerves, patients are at high risk of getting ulcers. Researchers at the University of Derby are working with a professor at the Royal Derby Hospital to find out whether an intelligent shoe insole could help.

The novel insole contains sensors which screen the foot. It’s made from a smart material, and when it receives an instruction from an intelligent closed-loop control system it supports a particular area of the foot.

The team are currently working on which combination of sensors and data processing works best, and what data is the most useful to monitor foot health and prevent serious conditions. The closed loop control system will integrate smart sensing, intelligent signal processing, and decision support.

This approach could both reduce the number of appointments needed and advise the patient when it’s time to see a specialist. Data collected over time from the insoles could also support longer term diagnosis and treatment decisions.

“The development of foot ulcers in people with diabetes is a source of great misery to sufferers and cost to the NHS. This exciting technology could prevent ulcers occurring in people with diabetes who are at high risk because nerve damage means they can’t feel their feet. A system which senses changes and provides feedback could give people with diabetes the reassurance that their feet are safe.”

Professor Game, Consultant Diabetologist, Royal Derby Hospital

Business and Finance

Business innovation depends on the latest technology. We create a business environment equipped for the challenges and opportunities of new technologies and ways of doing business.

Our key competencies

How are we using our research?

We are feeding digital leaders into the working world, by training our students the key skills employers are looking for. For example our The Bloomberg Financial Lab uses data simulation to test the effect of trade conditions on real-world financial market data.

Case study: The Bloomberg Financial Lab

"The introduction of the new Bloomberg Financial lab at the University played a big role in confirming my decision to study at this University. Throughout my three years at the University each module has taken full advantage of using the Bloomberg facilities to study company data, markets and other data – this has been detrimental in shaping my understanding of the course throughout. The ability to use the Bloomberg facility has enabled me to gain a Bloomberg Market Concepts certificate, which is an extra course available to students at this University, covering topics such as currencies, fixed income and equities. I have also received a certificate for competing within a trading challenge, which was only possible through the opportunity to learn and experience portfolio management and equities in the Bloomberg financial lab at the University."

Jake Gonella, BA (Hons) Economics for Business graduate

We are a proud partner of the Midlands Enterprise Universities (MEU) , a partnership of six entrepreneurial universities working together to support the Midlands Engine for Growth. The ambition is to drive productivity and growth in the Midlands through skills, innovation and enterprise.

On the 5 December we will be with the MEU for the Digital Capabilities, Joining Forces to Create Solutions  As well as showcasing the universities’ combined skills and expertise, the event will focus on the importance of embracing digital change, the challenges businesses may face and how to overcome them. 

Below is the MEU brand new Digital Capabilities brochure: