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'Scotland seizing the opportunity'

Data demand boosts lab’s economic value

Gillian Docherty
Gillian Docherty

Growing demand for data-led solutions has seen an innovation centre double the value of its contribution to the Scottish economy.

The Data Lab, established with an £11.3 million grant from the Scottish Funding Council, has also doubled the number of projects supported in the last year to 52.

Its projected input to the Scottish economy has leapt from £34m to £70m over the past year. The projects will create an estimated 250 jobs, of which 190 will be high value positions.

Gillian Docherty, CEO of The Data Lab, said: “There is no doubt, Scotland is seizing the data opportunity. The rate of growth we’ve seen over the past year is testament to burgeoning demand from across the public and private sector to leverage insight from data. 

“Scotland boasts a unique infrastructure of world class academic institutions and inspiring landscape of start-ups and entrepreneurialism, so it’s no wonder we’re seeing more international organisations take advantage of what’s on offer here.

“With companies that range from SkyScanner to start-ups who continue to challenge and enter new territories with data science, Scotland’s international reputation will only continue to grow.”

Scotland’s growing reputation in the global data landscape was confirmed at the inaugural DataFest at the end of March which attracted more than 2,000 delegates from 40 countries.

Among them were data science experts and speakers including Hilary Mason, former chief scientist at Bitly; Dr Hannah Fry of the BBC’s Joy of Data, and John Akred from Silicon Valley Data Science.

Natalia Adler, UNICEF, at DataFest
Natalia Adler, UNICEF, at DataFest

UNICEF’s research policy planning specialist, based in New York, Natalia Adler spoke at the Data Summit conference within DataFest, heralding Scotland as having an, “ecosystem of problem solvers and data-rich companies.”

Among the companies now growing in the data sector is Brainnwave which secured a partnership with UNICEF to provide geospatial data and analytics to help track refugees in Somalia and allocate resources and refuge for the displaced populations.

Brainnwave partnered with The Data Lab which funded an academic partnership with the University of Edinburgh and The University of Glasgow, to allow the company to develop the technology behind the unique data marketplace platform. 

Another firm, NEL, a centre of excellence for flow measurement and fluid flow systems based in East Kilbride, teamed up with The Data Lab and Robert Gordon University to develop state-of-the-art data mining software used in the oil and gas industry. The analysis will predict future trends and forecast potential issues before they become costly problems.


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