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Scottish IT whizz kids set to go global

Some of the best Computer Science brains in Scotland are to help national and global IT businesses under a new knowledge exchange scheme launched by Scottish universities.

Backed by almost £500,000 of Government funding, the Scottish Informatics and Computer Science Alliance (SICSA) is to provide opportunities to over 70 computer scientists to provide new placements, exchanges and internships with Scottish and overseas businesses.

SICSA is a collaboration of universities which includes St Andrews, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Dundee. Its goal is to develop and extend Scotland’s position as a world leader in Informatics and Computer Science research and education.

Now, the Scottish Funding Council has approved funding for a range of new initiatives that will enable SICSA to significantly improve knowledge exchange between Scottish-based Informatics and Computing Science researchers and businesses, both national and global.

SICSA has developed six new and diverse initiatives to achieve these objectives.  These programmes will, if fully exploited, provide opportunities to over 70 early career and early stage researchers and create a broader impact for ICS research in Scotland – encouraging inward industry investment and enhanced knowledge exchange across a range of ICS disciplines.

Professor Aaron Quigley of the University of St Andrews and SICSA Director for Knowledge Exchange said:

“As early stage researcher myself I was able to undertake an internship in Austin, Texas while as an early career researcher I was a visiting scientist with Mitsubishi Electric Research Labs in Cambridge, MA and IBM in Dublin Ireland.

“These opportunities helped me form lasting and sustained engagements which continue to this day. I look forward to others across SICSA being able to have the same opportunity to help shape their careers and exchange their knowledge with industry.”

Polly Purvis, the Executive Director of ScotlandIS, the trade body for Scotland’s IT industry, welcomed the new knowledge exchange scheme.

“These initiatives offer Scotland’s software and IT industry unique opportunities to engage with our world class research base through a range of flexible collaborative projects,” she said.

“The software and IT industry in Scotland is a major contributor to economic growth, employing 100,000 people.  Keeping abreast of the rapid changes in technology and computing science is a challenge for everyone and the industry has an increasing need for highly talented people, so this innovative approach from SICSA is extremely welcome.”

The new programmes will be open to all early career and early stage researchers working in Informatics and Computer Science within a SICSA member institution.

These programmes, which have been approved by the SICSA Committee and SFC include:

1. SICSA Postgraduate Industry Internship Programme – Full or part funding for current PhD students to embark upon an industry internship for a period of up to 9 months.

2. SICSA Early Career Industry Fellowships – Providing a salary and a contribution towards research costs for successful candidates to work on collaborative projects with industry over a period of one year (full-time) or two years (part-time).

3. SICSA Distinguished Industrial Visitor Fellowship (DIVF) – Modelled on the current SICSA Distinguished Visitor Fellowship programme, this programme offers financial and organisational support to eminent members of industry who wish to come and work in Scotland.

4. SICSA Proof of Concept Programme – Funding for early career researchers to facilitate exchanges and connections with business and industry, both within Scotland and internationally.  This funding will allow researchers to rapidly respond to industrial challenge competitions, open-data sets etc. and funding can be utilised flexibly – for example to support a research assistant to work on an industry facing problem or for a developer to realise a working proof of concept based on an identified industry problem.

5. SICSA Team based Industrial Placements – Support to facilitate 3 month team-based industrial placements within industry.  As well as providing financial support for team based placements, SICSA will also work with external agencies and businesses to identify opportunities for such projects.

6. SICSA Elevate – This is an applied research accelerator programme, supporting early career researchers from across SICSA to accelerate promising research ideas into sound business start-ups, transfer or licencing over a 12 week period.

For more information on these programmes, please email admin@sicsa.ac.uk.

ENDS

Notes to Editors:

Press release issued by the University of St Andrews Press Office.

Contact Niall Scott, Director of Communications on +44 (0) 1334 462530 or email niall.scott@st-andrews.ac.uk.

Professor Aaron Quigley, SICSA Director for Knowledge Exchange/ SICSA Deputy Director, is available on +44 (0) 1334 461623 or aquigley@st-andrews.ac.uk.

Further information and application procedures will also shortly be available at the SICSA web site – www.sicsa.ac.uk.

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