EPSRC NetworkPlus on Social Justice through the Digital Economy

Funder: Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council

Dimensions: grant.7611866



  1. (1) Newcastle University, grid.1006.7
  2. (2) Swansea University, grid.4827.9
  3. (3) Royal Holloway University of London, grid.4970.a

Research Organisations


United Kingdom




Technological advances in Artificial Intelligence and Big Data, have already given rise to extensive socio-economic transformation and new and emerging technologies, such as distributed ledgers and the Internet of Things, are set to further revolutionise the information and service economy, and public services. Yet, technological innovation has the potential to also dis-benefit the most vulnerable, amplify existing forms of injustice and create new forms of exclusion in socio-economic life, thus further exacerbate socio-economic inequality and social division. That the whole of society benefits from progress in the Digital Economy is national priority, both morally and economically as those who are most vulnerable have the greatest need of opportunities for socio-economic participation. Taking a Social Justice approach, this NetworkPlus focuses on how the design of new and emerging technologies in the Digital Economy, and their application, can empower, emancipate and more equitably distribute opportunities for economic development to all citizens, consumers and employees. This EPSRC NetworkPlus: Social Justice through the Digital Economy aims to bring together and resource partners from academia, industry, government and civil society to understand, explore and respond, together, to the potential of new and emerging technologies to make the UK socio-economic life fairer for all. The NetworksPlus activities will focus on three challenge areas: Algorithmic Social Justice; Digital Security for All; Fairer Futures for Businesses and Workforces. Algorithmic Social Justice examines fairness in the design and application of AI algorithms in automated and semi-automated decision-making processes. It asks how can large data sets be classified and interpreted to inform, for example, care or health interventions programs or city planning and how can AI algorithms be made less opaque and criteria used to design them fairer and transparent. Digital Security for All investigates new and better ways to model digital security that increase people's sense of agency, while meeting their security needs and protection of assets in public and commercial online service delivery. For example, this challenge area asks in what ways can online services be designed to better support people's sense of agency and trust, while assuring security in sharing personal data online. Fairer Futures for Businesses and Workforces considers how new 'sharing economy' platforms can be designed to realise more ethical business models and equal opportunities for economic development. For example, this theme asks what platforms can be designed to support peer-to-peer markets places that cater for those who have little or no assets; and what are the implications for a fair workforce representation in the digital era. The NetworkPlus will enable new ways to support effective collaborations between academic and non-academic communities and organisations through a range of activities, including a curated series on events in the three thematic priorities and an innovative and more directed process of project commissioning. The NetworkPlus will deliver curated events and activities-including symposia, hands-on workshops, theory-hacks and design and development sprints, aiming to increase capacity, upskilling and foster trans-disciplinary dialogue, knowledge exchange between academic and non-academic communities as well as. The NetworkPlus will deliver a novel curated commissioning process of activities designed to support EPS doctoral researchers and Early Career Researchers developing impactful project proposals in partnership with industry, government, third sector and civil society.

Funding information

Funding period: 2018-2021

Funding amount: EUR 1137554

Grant number: EP/R044929/1