Change at top

Hills quits Data Lab, Thomson becomes interim CEO

Brian Hills has departed the Data Lab, leaving Heather Thomson in temporary control

Brian Hills has stepped down as chief executive of the Data Lab to take up a new and unspecified role in the private sector.

In a statement this morning, the company said his decision follows its successful application to the Scottish Funding Council to be funded as part of a new 10-year Innovation Infrastructure programme.

Heather Thomson has been installed as interim CEO with immediate effect.

Chairman Les Bayne said: “Brian has been integral in the evolution and growth of The Data Lab over the last nine years. Since joining the centre in 2015 and taking up the CEO role in 2021, he has played a major part in the creation of a wealth of successful programmes.

“As a result, these programmes have generated £200m in additional revenue for Scotland’s data and AI sector, as well as forming and safeguarding more and 1,350 jobs in the sector.

“We would like to extend our thanks to Brian for his leadership and contribution to The Data Lab and wish him all the best for the future.” 

Since joining The Data Lab in 2018, Ms Thomson has led the £8m data and AI skills programme. She was appointed to The Data Lab’s senior leadership team in 2021 as Director of Skills and Education playing a fundamental role in developing strategy, delivery and culture across the wider organisation.

She will now lead the transition from existing funding to new Innovation Infrastructure funding.

Mr Bayne added: “Heather’s appointment marks a significant milestone in the future of The Data Lab, as we celebrate 10 years since the centre’s inception.

“Heather starts this role as the next funding chapter kicks off and the opportunity for data and AI continues to grow, presenting a huge opportunity for Scotland which The Data Lab will be at the heart of.”

The Data Lab said it will appoint a permanent CEO in 2025 following the launch of the new Innovation Infrastructure programme.



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