Working with Business

Social Inclusion

Social Inclusion

Newcastle University, backed by £12.6m funding from the Research Councils UK, has established a Digital Economy Hub to investigate Social Inclusion through the Digital Economy (SiDE).

Sector: Information Technology

The aim is to make it easier for people to access the life-changing benefits offered by digital technologies. For example, ‘walking satnav’ devices could help older people navigate around shopping centres. And sensors in kitchens could help dementia sufferers ensure that they are able to live safely for longer in their own home.


Professor Paul Watson, who heads the Hub, says: “SiDE researchers are exploiting the potential of digital technologies to make a positive impact on excluded people and communities. We are working directly with these marginalised groups to understand their needs, and explore the potential for digital technologies and approaches to transform lives.”

The University of Dundee plays a key role in the Hub and there are important contributions from a range of businesses, charities and public sector organisations. Names associated with the project include Philips Research, IBM, Microsoft, Age Concern, and the Alzheimer’s Society.


At the launch of the Hub the Senior Vice President at Philips Research, Fred Boekhorst, commented that it would “allow us to uncover consumer insights and translate these into meaningful innovations that will improve people’s lives.”
IBM’s Frances West said that the computing giant would be “collaborating with the Digital Economy Research Hub to address the needs of the aging population, which is such an important and rapidly growing part of the workforce and general population worldwide.”