Launch of new centre – The Digital Economy Centre for the Decentralised Digital Economy (DECaDE)

Developing technological solutions to improve the governance of the digital economy is the focus of a major new hub.

A team of Edinburgh researchers will play a key role in a new centre that aims to improve fairness and efficiency in the sector – including examining the reliance of small enterprises on big tech companies.

The Digital Economy Centre for the Decentralised Digital Economy (DECaDE), hosted by the University of Surrey, has been launched following a £4 million award by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and a £6 million investment from industrial partners.

Improving efficiency

Researchers from the Universities of Edinburgh and Surrey will work with Digital Catapult – a technology innovation centre to make digital businesses more competitive and productive.

Data-driven innovations have dramatically changed the shape of many sectors of the economy, researchers say.

Companies such as Airbnb, Uber and Deliveroo have contributed to a decentralised market place, and a labour market characterised by short-term contracts or freelance work.

The platforms that allow this gig economy to exist tend to be controlled by large organisations that can gather and hold vast pockets of data from users.

Data ownership

A focus of the Centre will be to consider the ethical collection and ownership of data.

Researchers will create systems to increase the ability of data ownership to be shared from the big tech companies to individual and decentralised organisations.

The Centre will look at how technologies – such as artificial intelligence (AI) and distributed ledger technology (DLT) – a digital blockchain system for recording transactions – can allow companies to digitise their business processes with other companies, to create new working models and improve value and fairness.


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