New hub for UK data science opens at Office for National Statistics

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) opened its new Data Science Campus at its Newport HQ, part of a £17m investment in statistics announced in March last year.

ONS Data Science Campus launch

The Campus has been established to harness new data sources and technologies to provide statistics for policy makers and businesses about the fast-moving UK economy and society. Creating this resource for the nation is part of the ONS’s ongoing programme of work to meet the challenge of providing richer and more real-time statistics to inform decision makers.

Speaking at the Campus launch, National Statistician John Pullinger said:

"The Data Science Campus will innovate with new methods and data sources providing opportunities to improve existing statistics and develop new outputs by working across government, industry, academia and charities in the UK and internationally. The wide range of training and learning programmes which the Campus will offer will also be central to building data science capability across the UK. Through these actions, the Campus will help us realise our vision of better statistics for better decisions."

Minister for the Cabinet Office Ben Gummer, who opened the new facility on behalf of the UK Government, said:

"I have been very pleased to see how the ONS is busy transforming itself into a twenty-first century data-driven organisation which serves as a focal point for UK data science and an important provider of skilled jobs in South Wales. Efficient and effective government needs precise economic data, and it is encouraging to see how the >ONS and its people are rising to meet that challenge."

Alun Cairns, Secretary of State for Wales, said:

"The expanding ONS centre at Newport is great news for the area with a new campus at the heart of it. We now have in Wales a cutting edge facility can serve not only the public sector but private businesses and entrepreneurs. ONS has a long-term future in Newport, and I look forward to it providing high-quality jobs and >remaining a major feature of our digital economy in Wales."

Campus Managing Director Tom Smith said:

"We are excited about creating a UK centre for data science here in Newport, building on this as the home of economic statistics. Like every organisation, the ONS needs to develop to meet the demands of a changing world. We are investing in present and future jobs here, building data analytics expertise to produce even better statistics that inform decisions affecting everyone, from how governments spend taxpayers’ money to the services we receive. Our Newport HQ which, shared with the IPO is Newport’s single largest employer, is getting a £10m modernisation, reflecting our ongoing commitment to making Newport the home of world class statistics."

Formally opening the new facility, Cabinet Office Minister Ben Gummer MP, said:

"I have been very pleased and impressed to see how ONS is busy transforming itself into a 21st century data-driven organisation, a focal point for UK data science and an important provider of skilled jobs in south Wales. Now more than ever the UK needs fast, precise economic data and it is encouraging to see how ONS and its people are rising to meet that challenge."

Plans for the Campus were announced last spring as part of ONS’s ongoing plans to develop the statistical information it provides. The Campus will work on projects within five themes, under the collective title of People, Planet and Prosperity: • Evolving economy • Urban and rural • Society • Sustainability • UK in a global context.

The Data Science Campus will work with national and international partners from academia, government and business to deliver joint research programmes and to build UK data science capability, including providing funding opportunities for PhD candidates. As part of this the ONS set up the first UK Data Analytics apprenticeship scheme and are planning more opportunities to train people in these skills that are so important for the UK’s decision-makers. Guests at the launch had the opportunity to explore the new Data Science Campus building and to hear from data scientists across ONS, including the apprentices, about the initial projects being carried out, work on understanding the economy and financial sectors, international trade, population flows, and the environment. Guest organisations (Warwick Business School, Stats Netherland, Flowminder and the Met Office) will talk about projects they have worked on that demonstrate what can be achieved with new data sources for the public good.