Gillian Docherty

In a special interview with IFSD Glasgow, The Data Lab’s CEO Gillian Docherty talks about the work of the organisation and how data offers £20bn of opportunities for the Scottish economy.

What is the DataLab?

The Data Lab is Scotland's innovation centre for data science and AI, our mission is to maximise the value of data for Scotland and to lead the world to a data powered future.

How long has it been around?

The Data Lab started in 2014 as part of a broader innovation centre programme to help organisations (commercial and public sector) in Scotland innovate by driving value from data. The potential economic benefit to Scotland from the data opportunity is estimated to be £20bn but we need to help organisations take advantage of that opportunity.

Gillian Docherty T

What's been achieved to date?

Over the last 5 years, we have invested in over 110 projects, helping organisations build new products or services or drive operational efficiency and productivity by using novel data science, machine learning and AI methods.   We have built an extensive skills and talent programme including sponsored MSc programmes where we have supported 560 students to gain their MSc in 26 different courses from MSc in Data Engineering, Data Science, Machine Learning, AI and Speech analysis and many more. We pull the MSc cohort together for meta skills training, innovation challenge weeks and placements in Industry.  We have funded over 25 Industrial Doctorates with industry partners and have built 12 online learning courses in the application of data science across various industries.

We run Executive Education and have taken 1200 people through this programme in the last 2 years. We have published school lessons, plans and work for school teachers and children.

We run Scotland's annual DataFest; a festival showcasing data innovation over 2 weeks every year, with over 4,000 participants and 60+ events including StatWars a competition for school children, a travelling data/art gallery bus, datathons, debates, talent events and business events.  We build international relationships through our networks and take Scottish delegations to relevant international conferences to showcase and talk about their work.

We have run the Cancer Innovation Challenge for Scotland, helping to improve patient outcomes and experiences through cancer treatment with innovative data methods.

We have also launched the Data for Children Collaborative with UNICEF to help solve problems for children in Scotland and beyond.

What are your plans for the future?

We plan to continue our support of industry and the public sector in Scotland; we are working with our networks to build collaborations to solve important challenges, either in an individual sector such as Health and Wellbeing or across sectors.  Our skills and talent work will continue to expand with new opportunities offered to those in work at risk from automation to learn new data skills, as well as building new MSc programmes, continuous professional development and online courses.

DataFest will continue to expand and provide a platform for sharing the amazing data innovation happening in Scotland and around the world.

Keep up to date with all the business and community news from Glasgow's IFSD by subscribing to our monthly e-newsletter or connecting on LinkedIn and twitter . #IFSD