The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) has been invited to submit a proposal to UKRI in June 2021 for £53.5m to establish New and Emerging Data UK (NEDUK). The Health Foundation welcomes the opportunity to comment on the consultation.
The need to make better use of existing data assets, across disciplines, with both existing and new stakeholders from the public, private and third sectors is of major importance in addressing some of society’s most pressing challenges with data-driven innovation and insights.
The potential establishment of NEDUK comes at a critical point in time; the UK’s lack of data readiness in response to COVID-19, combined with the catalysis of new collaborations and partnerships between academia, the health service, large consumer data organisations, government and charities in the pandemic effort has surfaced the unmet potential of utilising proprietary data for health.
We wish to show our support for NEDUK’s preliminary proposal and highlight four areas of consideration. Firstly, we would encourage a bolder ambition of what NEDUK aims to achieve; secondly, explicitly advocating for and conducting more substantive “field-building” activities in order to support a more ambitious vision; thirdly, the potential for real-world products, tools, services and insights from using these data presents us with an opportunity for effective deployment of commercial resources and innovation against major societal challenges, and; fourthly, to draw attention to considering a truly innovative governance, design, community and citizen-led way-of-working of the central hub in such a way that the citizen voice is baked into the unit by design, rather than merely consulted.