Published: 03 November 2020

Surrey Business School receives funding for new research centre to develop a fairer digital economy

Professor Glenn Parry from Surrey Business School is part of a team who have secured £10 million in funding to launch an ambitious new research centre named ‘DECaDE: Centre for the Decentralised Digital Economy’ that will influence the future of the digital economy with the help of artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain technology.

The University of Surrey, together with The University of Edinburgh and Digital Catapult will establish DECaDE thanks to £4million awarded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and £6million investment from industrial partners.

The aim of the centre is to develop a fairer digital economy. Most of our data is held in highly centralised silos, with organisations such as Facebook and Google. We can change that utilising decentralised technologies where users have greater control over the way this data is managed.

The Decentralised Digital Economy (DDE) offers opportunities for radical new business models that redefine how value is derived from digital content. Currently most businesses have an engagement model which requires users to spend time on platforms, generating meta-data which the platforms then re-package and sell. Such models generate little for the user beyond their immediate engagement. In decentralised models, users can hold their data, and firms would need to create mutually beneficial uses to generate value from that data. YouTube is an example of where this is already happening.

DECaDE will look at how decentralised platforms enabled by emerging data-centric technologies like AI and distributed ledgers (blockchain) can transform our future economy – and the way we work, interact and create value. As data and platforms become decentralised there will be much for us to learn about how these technologies can scale and the kinds of governance and incentive structures required to maintain them sustainably.

DECaDE hopes to ensure this emerging economy is one that is fair, has appropriate governance, and maximises opportunities for everyone to create value.  

The team

Surrey Business School will be establishing the Centre for the Decentralised Digital Economy (DECaDE) with The University of Edinburgh and Digital Catapult.

Centre Director: Professor John Collomosse, Centre for Vision Speech and Signal Processing (CVSSP), Dept of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, University of Surrey.

Co-Director: Professor Glenn Parry, Centre of Digital Economy (CODE), Surrey Business School.

Co-Investigators: Professor Steve Schneider, Director of Surrey Centre for Cyber Security, Professor Chris Speed, Chair in Design Informatics, The University of Edinburgh, Dr Dave Murray-Rust, Programme Director, Design Informatics, The University of Edinburgh University, Professor Burkhard Schafer, Professor of Computational Legal Theory, University of Edinburgh.

Partners: Dr Libby Kinsey, Lead Technologist AI/ML, Digital Catapult, Dr Robert Learney, Head of Technology – Distributed Systems, Digital Catapult.