Guest blog from Steven Kendrick, Executive Officer at the Scottish Informatics and Computer Science Alliance (SICSA).
SICSA is an SFC funded research pool, whose goal is to develop Scotland’s research excellence in Informatics and Computing Science by supporting collaboration among its members and exchange of expertise with the private and public sectors. SICSA recently received a further 5 years of SFC funding, enabling us to continue our lively programme of events and funding programmes until July 2020.
SICSA represents 14 Computer Science Schools and departments across Scotland, which equates to around 500 research and teaching staff, 300 Post-Doctoral Research assistants; and 800 PhD research students. The result of this is a staggering amount of research, spanning many different areas. It is no surprise then that many outside of the world of academia (as well as those working inside it) often find it difficult to find out about the current research taking place in our Universities, let alone make direct contact with the academics actually doing it. Some on the outside still see academia as a rather impenetrable entity. Even though we wouldn’t want to agree with that, we certainly consider it one of our priorities to make Scottish Computer Science as accessible as we possibly can. However, we do acknowledge that there is still work to do here.
One of the main goals of SICSA is to facilitate greater collaboration between Computer Science departments; across disciplines; and of course with those outside of the University sector. Since we came to being back in 2008 we have developed a range of well-defined research communities through our SICSA Research Themes, which have brought academics and research students together for regular workshops, seminars and networking events. Over the recent years, our Research Themes have brought together researchers and professionals working in Data Science, Future Cities, Human-Computer-Interaction, and Modelling among others; and we would argue that this has not only led to better networking between Scottish Universities but also brought about some degree of cultural change. Scottish Universities in our field are collaborating more and competing less. As well as our Research Themes, we also fund International Conferences held in Scotland, Summer Schools and Distinguished Visiting Fellowships to help to bring academics from across the world to Scotland these have in-turn kicked off long-lasting research collaborations. Specifically for students we deliver an annual PhD Conference, which brings up to 200 research students, academics and professionals from across Scotland together for 2 days of skill workshops, keynotes and most importantly, networking opportunities. We’ve also helped students and early career researchers to get a taste of working within industry through our Industry Internships and Industry Fellowship programmes.
In the autumn we deliver an annual showcase of Scottish Computing Science research at our DEMOfest event. SICSA DEMOfest is about demonstrating the best of the current research in Scotland and is one of our most popular networking events, bringing together up to 100 academics and 200 delegates from a variety of sectors including: digital technology, finance, healthcare, oil and gas, government and many more. DEMOfest is a chance to gain access to specific research and make connections that could, and often do, lead to new innovative projects and long-term collaborations. This year’s event will take place on November 19th from 17:30, at the Informatics Forum, University of Edinburgh and this year we will be featuring research in Data Science & Digital Technologies; Health & Life Sciences; Robotics & Artificial Intelligence; Sensors & Imaging; and Future Cities & Smart Tourism. To get a flavour of what DEMOfest is about, have a look at our short film about the event here or visit the SICSA DEMOfest web page, where you can also register. This is a great networking opportunity and we look forward to welcoming you at the event!
If you cannot make it to DEMOfest, we deliver a lively programme of other events that you might be interested in. Just keep an eye on our events calendar at the SICSA website, or even better sign up to our mailing lists to keep abreast of recent developments.