U.K. seeks help prioritizing $3.4B of Big Data projects

The U.K. is seeking feedback on how it should allocate its science and research budget in the coming years. And with Big Data projects costing almost £2 billion ($3.4 billion) being considered, the outcome will have major implications for bioinformatics and genomics in the U.K.

An initiative called "Bridging the Genotype to Phenotype Gap" accounts for more than half of the Big Data expenditure being weighed up by the government. Costing an estimated £1.1 billion, the project would advance multiple interlinked programs aimed at better understanding how genotype influences and controls phenotype. Facilities for clinical and biomedical imaging, data management and analysis capabilities, and technology development initiatives are all in line to receive funding.

The genotype project is competing for funding with tens of other projects. In its call for feedback, the U.K. government presents projects costing more than £5 billion, but warns it lacks the budget to fund all of the initiatives. "Our resources aren't infinite. We've got to make choices," the U.K.'s chief finance minister George Osborne said in a speech. Osborne used the speech to call for the U.K. to get better at turning its scientific breakthroughs into commercial ventures that create jobs and grow the economy.

Other biomedical IT projects trying to show they meet the government criteria include a £150 million initiative to turn Big Data into medical insights. The project is part of U.K. efforts to link unstructured research data with other sources of information. An incubator space for translational commercial and public partnerships is part of the proposal. A £200 million program to link omics data to health records is also being considered.

- here's the consultation
- read Osborne's speech