Submitting InstitutionGoldsmiths' College
Unit of AssessmentComputer Science and Informatics
Summary Impact TypeEconomic
Research Subject Area(s)
Information and Computing Sciences: Artificial Intelligence and Image Processing, Data Format, Information Systems
Summary of the impact
Bishop and Danicic contributed to the development of novel spend analysis
software. Launched in 2011 as a commercial service by KTP industrial
partners @UK PLC, SpendInsight has been used by over 380 organisations,
including Basingstoke and North Hampshire NHS Foundation Trust, which,
alone, cut procurement spend by £300,000 via savings identified using
SpendInsight. An analysis produced by SpendInsight for the National Audit
Office identified gross inefficiencies in NHS procurement, yielding
potential annual overall savings of at least £500 million. The findings of
this report were discussed in parliament and changes to NHS purchasing
policy were recommended as a result.
Danicic joined Goldsmiths in 2000 as a full-time lecturer and has since
been promoted to Senior Lecturer and then Reader. Bishop joined Goldsmiths
in 2003 as a Reader and has been promoted to Professor. They have both
been here full-time continuously.
In 2006, Goldsmiths and Reading University began working with an SME
called @UK on three related Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP)
projects. Goldsmiths' contribution was principally through one of these
led by Bishop and Danicic (KTP 1575, 19/07/06 - 31/08/09). The research,
which led to the development of the SpendInsight spend analysis system,
focused on a central - ontological — problem: how to recognise as the
same, entities specified in different ways (for example, how to identify `BD
Plasticpak 50ml syringes' as equivalent to `50 millilitre B D
Plasticpak syringe'. The Goldsmiths contribution drew on two
long-established departmental research themes: `machine understanding' and
Bishop has been working on the foundations of machine understanding for
many years; his 2002 OUP text, Views into the Chinese room, is
one of the definitive texts in the field. He is still extremely active in
the subject: for example, he recently extended Searle's Chinese room
argument from its original, rule-based script systems configuration to one
that takes into account the most recent advances in "Quantum linguistics"
. This research, stemming from the critique of formal systems and
exploring the links between syntax and semantics, informs the work of
SpendInsight in its application to the language-understanding problems of:
data re-structuring, de-duplication and product classification [1,2]:
Data re-structuring is the problem of taking incomplete
differently structured data from many different sources and
automatically converting them all into objects of the same well-defined
structured schema. The work also draws on Danicic's work on formal semantics:
re-structuring syntactically different, yet equivalent, structured
De-duplication is the problem of deciding when apparently
different entities [in the core `knowledge structure'] are actually
different representations of an `equivalent entity'. Equivalent
entities, although syntactically different, often match the same
pattern. Our constructivist approach to this problem, instantiated by a
rule-engine in which all rules are applied iteratively until the system
stabilises, results in sequentially `cleansed views' of the core
knowledge structure (see  and ). This novel approach grew from
discussion of Danicic's work on the detection of `equivalent mutants'
(structures with small syntactic differences; similar to those occurring
in the `knowledge structure')  that reported research that was
developed in an EPSRC grant (Linear
Schemas for Program Dependence EP/E002919/1).
Product Classification denotes the following problem: from a
large set of purely textual descriptions of products and the structured
data above, we need to find which products could be classed as
'alternatives', i.e. those which are 'semantically equivalent' (the
semantic equivalence of `syntactically distinct objects' forming the
underlying abstraction outlined in ).
A novel combination of the `Decision Tree' and `Bayesian classifier'
algorithms was introduced to solve this classification problem . The
textual descriptions for each product are reduced to a "bag of words" and
a set of manually classified training data is used to calculate the
conditional probability of a word belonging to (a product in) each class.
References to the research
The international quality of the research is evidenced by
publication in selective peer-reviewed journals [1,4,5,6] and publications
by respected publishers such as OUP .
1. Roberts P, Mitchell RJ, Ruiz V, Bishop JM (2012) Classification in
E-Procurement. Proceedings of the IEEE Conference on Cybernetic
Intelligent Systems (Limerick Ireland); extended version accepted
for publication in the International Journal of Applied Pattern
[Available on request from the Research Office]
2. Barraclough R, Bishop JM, Danicic S, Nasuto S, Mitchell R (2012)
SpendInsight: Some remarks on deploying an intelligent spend-analysis
system. Proceedings of the AISB/IACAP World Congress in honour of Alan
Turing, pp. 1-6. Birmingham, UK.
[Available on request from the research office]
[Available on request from the Research Office]
4. Bishop JM, Nasuto SJ, Coecke B (2013) `Quantum linguistics' and
Searle's Chinese room argument. Studies in Applied Philosophical,
Epistemological & Rational Ethics, 5:17-28, Springer.
[Available on request from the Research Office]
5. Danicic S, Harman M, Hierons RH, Howroyd J, Laurence M (2007)
Equivalence of linear, free, liberal, structured program schemas is
decidable in polynomial time. Journal of Theoretical Computer Science,
373: 1-18. DOI:
6. Hierons RH, Harman M, Danicic S (1999) Using program slicing to assist
in the detection of equivalent mutants. Journal of Software Testing,
Verification and Reliability, 9(4): 233-262. DOI
Details of the impact
SpendInsight has had far-reaching and substantial impact on both society
and the economy.
The societal impact:
- SpendInsight was used  to produce the data for a National Audit
Office (NAO) report  highlighting gross inefficiencies in NHS
- The NAO report was discussed by parliamentary committee , which
recommended changes in Government health policy.
- SpendInsight technology was subsequently used to develop GreenInsight
— a system to measure an organisations carbon footprint, reveal which
suppliers and goods contribute most to this footprint, and to help
create an organisation's carbon reduction plan .
The economic impact:
- SpendInsight has produced significant savings for a number of health
- SpendInsight is listed on the Government's Procurement Service, a
service aiming to increase financial efficiency across the whole UK
Public Sector .
- SpendInsight technology has been licenced by VISA inc. and Tungsten
Corporation resulting in an immediate 500% increase in the value of @UK
- SpendInsight technology has been licensed to Tungsten Corporation
significantly contributing to their recent over-subscribed launch on AIM
- Following the project, @UK hired the three KTP associates as permanent
The 2011 investigation into the procurement of consumables by the NHS by
the National Audit Office revealed huge inefficiencies in NHS trusts'
procurement . The task of a carrying out quantitative analysis of data
for this was undertaken by @UK PLC using SpendInsight . The findings
were published in a 33-page NAO report in February 2011  which
"If hospital trusts were to amalgamate small, ad-hoc orders into
larger, less frequent ones, rationalise and standardise product choices
and strike committed volume deals across multiple trusts, they could
make overall savings of at least £500 million, around
10 per cent of the total NHS consumables expenditure of £4.6 billion."
This report was discussed by the House of Commons Committee of Public
Accounts in May 2011  which concluded that the Department of Health
should require all NHS purchasers and suppliers to make use of a standard,
comprehensive product bar-coding system so that price comparisons can
easily be made and savings opportunities identified; purchasers must
ensure that product bar-coding is in place by April 2014.
The NAO report featured strongly in BBC news  and subsequently led to
an investigation into health procurement by the BBC radio programme File
On 4 , an investigation which focused on the political impact
of the report and concluded that — in contrast to Conservative party
manifesto policy (decentralising budget-holding and commissioning
responsibilities to GPs) — money could be saved "if only trusts could
get their act together".
SpendInsight has so far been used to perform spend analysis for 382
different organisations. Although the data are normally confidential, a
number have publicly reported savings: these include the Basingstoke and
North Hampshire NHS Foundation Trust (£300,000)  and the Royal
Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust (£100,000) .
SpendInsight is listed on the Government's `Procurement Service'; an
agency of the Cabinet Office supporting procurement across the Public
Sector, aiming to increase operational and financial efficiency. Thus
SpendInsight is available on a `national framework contract', making it
possible for Public Sector organisations to use the service very easily
The market capitalisation of @UK PLC increased substantially after it
announced that, together with Visa Inc., it was rolling out its CloudBuy
platform across Asia Pacific using SpendInsight technology to create `the
region's first business-to-business integrated e-marketplace solution'.
Another recent development of SpendInsight technology has seen Tungsten
Corporation sign a five-year license for the SpendInsight software; the
unique ability of this technology to analyse client spend data at the
`line item level' is central to their corporate vision. On October 16th
2013 Tungsten floated on AIM, the largest floatation on AIM since 2008,
closing substantially over offer at £233million .
In September 2011 the NHS announced that it would work with @UK PLC on a
project using @UK PLC.'s core SpendInsight technology, to develop
GreenInsight — a system to measure NHS carbon footprint, reveal which NHS
suppliers and goods contribute most to this footprint, and to create a NHS
carbon reduction plan.
GreenInsight's significance has been recognised among leading
organisations promoting sustainability. Its official launch (on 7th
October 2010) was attended by Richard Benyon, Minister for the Natural
Environment and Fisheries, and included a presentation from a member of
Prince Charles's Accounting for Sustainability project.. When the
GreenInsight data-format, Green-XML, was subsequently launched on 15th
November 2011 there was a video message from the HRH Prince of Wales, an
introduction from the RSA's Chief Executive, and a presentation from the
CEO of the worldwide benchmark emissions reporting programme, the Carbon
Disclosure Project .
Sources to corroborate the impact
All the materials listed below are available on request, in hard or
electronic format, from Goldsmiths Research Office.
- Professional Outsourcing Magazine (highlighting that SpendInsight
software was used to compile the NAO report: NHS
procurement needs improving.
Procurement of consumables by NHS acute and Foundation trusts,
Audit Office, published 2 February 2011. ISBN: 9780102969467
of Commons Committee of Public Accounts, Formal Minutes Session
- The launch
of GreenInsight and Green-XML £300,000 savings realised by
Basingstoke and North Hampshire NHS Foundation Trust (registration
required to view): Procurement
in NHS Trusts is "poor value for money" says NAO report.
£100,000 savings realised by Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust
- Link to @UK PLC featured on Government Buying Solutions
Procurement Service website.
- BBC News Health
File on 4 Report (discussing
impact of NAO report)
- The SpendInsight Project