Area of investment and support

Area of investment and support: Databases

The theoretical foundations of databases and research into data management systems, distributed information management and query languages.

Partners involved:
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)

The scope and what we're doing

This strategy recognises that this is a relatively small but high-quality research area in the UK.


We aim to have database researchers contributing to the ongoing challenges posed by data science. This should include new ways of developing scalable data management systems that can manage high volumes of complex data in infrastructures on which data analytics can then be performed.

Our portfolio of database research and research training should complement related activity in the Alan Turing Institute, and help achieve the aims set out in EPSRC’s Data enabled decision making priority for the Information and communication technologies (ICT) theme. This will require the strengthening of existing links with other researchers in the data science landscape, including research areas such as Artificial intelligence technologies and Information systems.

Increased translation of theoretical work into practice and improved links with users of database technology is another goal. There are opportunities for researchers to take advantage of datasets acquired by other sectors (such as medicine, retail and automotive). Consideration of users of database technology should occur from the outset and be in line with the ethos of EPSRC’s People at the heart cross-ICT priority.

Why we're doing it

Although concentrated in a small number of groups, UK work in this research area is high quality and has strong international standing, with UK researchers well represented at top international conferences such as Very Large Data Bases and SIGMOD/PODS (Special Interest Group on Management of Data / Principles of Database Systems).

The community in the UK is cohesive and well placed to take advantage of any opportunities provided by the Alan Turing Institute. The EPSRC portfolio in this area has doubled over five years, and this investment continues to be concentrated in the leading groups. In recent years however, new researchers based at other groups and institutions have started to come into the area.

The research supported in the databases area has clear relevance to nationally important challenges related to data science, particularly around managing and structuring data prior to performing analytics (sometimes termed data wrangling). This is especially relevant in complex, large or distributed architectures and systems. The recent establishment of the Alan Turing Institute demonstrates a clear aspiration for the UK to be a leader in data science and databases research should contribute to the foundations of this effort.

There is a small training portfolio but it is well-balanced between individual studentships and cohort-based training. This should be maintained to ensure a ‘people pipeline’ into academia and industry.

Some strong industrial links exist to work ongoing in this area and across sectors demand is growing for maintenance of and access to data at scale.

View evidence sources used to inform our research strategies.

Past projects, outcomes and impact

Visualising our portfolio (VoP) is a tool for users to visually interact with the EPSRC portfolio and data relationships. Find out more about research area connections and funding for databases.

Find previously funded projects on Grants on the Web.

Last updated: 21 December 2022

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