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Aston’s technology research emphasized to Cabinet Member for Digital, Culture, Heritage and Tourism

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Aston University has been highlighting some of its digital technology research during a visit by Birmingham City Council’s Cabinet Member for Digital, Culture, Heritage and Tourism, after a recent announcement that it is to open a brand new institute.

Councillor Jayne Francis was invited on campus for a tour of some of the University’s current facilities which will provide the foundation of the new Aston Digital Futures Institute. The University’s fifth research institute will focus on digital innovation and transformation, providing leadership in the area of Industry 4.0.

The Birmingham city councillor’s tour included a visit to Aston Institute of Photonic Technologies (AIPT), which is based at the University’s city centre campus.

AIPT is one of the world’s leading photonics – or light – research centres. Its track record of scientific achievements ranges from medical lasers to the high-speed optical communication technology that underpins the internet and the digital economy.

AIPT coordinates more than 60 national and international research and industrial projects, working with a network of more than 100 industrial collaborators.

Professor Andrew Ellis, deputy director of the Aston Institute of Photonics Technologies, led Councillor Francis on a tour of the Institute’s optical communications lab. The lab is home to legacy technology, which researchers can use to test innovative technology, ensuring that anything new that they invent will work alongside the old tech, not just at the University but across the country.

Councillor Francis also met with Professor Stephen Garrett, pro-vice-chancellor and executive dean of the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences and Professor Tony Dodd, deputy dean for research in the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences. They discussed how the Aston Digital Futures Institute will contribute to the digitalisation of healthcare and the progress of digital technology across the city.

Professor Garrett said: “It was a pleasure to show Councillor Francis our campus and demonstrate the technology and research we’re undertaking now and discuss what we will be doing in the future.

“I am very excited about what the future holds for Birmingham, especially as Aston University will be making a significant contribution to the city’s technological progress.”

Councillor Francis said: “Thank you to everyone at Aston University who made me welcome, and for those who explained their research to me in an authoritative but easy to understand way.

“We often hear phrases like big data, artificial intelligence and the internet of things but sometimes people find it difficult to envisage how these will impact on their lives in the near, and more distant future.

“It was exciting to see how research conducted at Aston University will benefit Birmingham people, improving their health, wellbeing, and much needed digital skills.”

Peter Bishop, director of digital and customer services at Birmingham City Council, added: “It was a delight to be given a tour of the facilities at Aston University. As a digital professional I’m always interested in new and innovative approaches, so I was especially interested in the research being conducted at the University.”