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The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) today announced the appointment of Howard Covington as the Chair of The Alan Turing Institute.

The Institute will build on the UK's existing academic strengths and help position the country as a world leader in the analysis and application of big data and algorithm research. Its headquarters will be based at the British Library at the centre of London’s Knowledge Quarter.

Minister for Universities and Science, Jo Johnson said: “Howard proves an ideal fit as Chair of The Alan Turing Institute. He brings to the table an extensive knowledge of business and finance that will be crucial to lead this exciting, multi-million pound project through its next stages to becoming a world-class centre for data science.”

A joint venture between the universities of Cambridge, Edinburgh, Oxford, Warwick, UCL and EPSRC - The Alan Turing Institute will attract the best data scientists and mathematicians from the UK and across the globe to break new boundaries in how we use big data in a fast moving, competitive world.

Professor Philip Nelson, EPSRC’s Chief Executive said: “Howard Covington brings a wealth of talent and experience to The Alan Turing Institute and will help it capitalise on its strong partnership base. The Institute is a symbol of joint investment in research for the future, it will draw on the best of the best academic talent in the country, and use the power of mathematics, statistics, and computer science to analyse Big Data in many ways. I am confident that it will prosper under Howard Covington’s stewardship.”

Commenting on his appointment, Mr Covington said: “To be chosen as Chair for The Alan Turing Institute is a great honour. The calibre of the university joint venture partners and the individuals involved will ensure that the Institute has a world class research team. The Institute will enhance the UK’s already strong academic reputation and help keep UK plc at the forefront of developments in Big Data.”

Mr Covington graduated with a double first from University of Cambridge. He has held a variety of positions, including in government service, investment banking and asset management.

During his distinguished career in finance he was a founding shareholder and chief executive of New Star Asset Management, which grew over a seven year period to a business with £20 billion under management and 400 employees.

The creation of the Institute is being coordinated by the EPSRC which invests in research and postgraduate training across the UK. The Institute is being funded over five years with £42 million from the UK government. The university partners are contributing £5 million each, totalling £25 million. In addition, the Institute will seek to partner with other business and government bodies.

Big Data is about gaining big value from extremely large and complex data sets. It revolutionises our ability to compare and cross-reference data in ways that were previously beyond the bounds of human or artificial computation.

Story courtesy of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council