First UK data science festival to be held in Scotland

The first UK data science festival is set to be held next year in Scotland – featuring a former Formula One pit crew member who used analytics to help drivers get an edge over their rivals.

A week-long series of events will be held in Edinburgh and around the country as part of DataFest17 – which aims to be a ‘celebration of innovation’ and will showcase Scotland’s leading data science capabilities.

International data science experts are expected to visit for the festival in March, which includes a two-day ‘data summit’, a ‘data talent’ gathering, both in Edinburgh, fringe events across the country, and training events.

Marc Priestley (pictured with The Data Lab CEO Gillian Docherty), former McLaren F1 pit stop crew and expert in British racing technology, will lead the DataFest17 line up.

He is also set to address a group of Chief Technology Officers in Edinburgh this evening, where he will relay his experiences working with drivers including Mika Häkkinen, David Coulthard, and Lewis Hamilton.

“In Formula One, getting split-second decisions right under pressure can be the difference between success and failure,” he said.

“Instinct and experience can get you so far, but finding the crucial marginal advantages over the opposition may not always be obvious to the ‘naked eye’.

“In F1, data analysis uncovers the opportunities that help teams win races. It is the difference between winning and losing. Data has the ability to change everything, to inform critical decisions and impact lives. It’s really exciting and important that we help realise the true potential of data and I’m pleased to be supporting DataFest17 and can’t wait to see what it brings.”

World-renowned data expert Dr Hannah Fry, presenter of BBC TV’s The Joy of Data, will also appear as part of the programme of events.

Gillian Docherty, CEO of The Data Lab, which is hosting the festival in partnership with Sainsbury’s Bank, said: “We are at the beginning of the data revolution: data innovation is disrupting all areas of our lives from business to public services and beyond.  The theme for the festival is #DataChangesEverything and the programme will explore current and future innovation.

“Scotland is a world-leader in data science and, in launching DataFest17, we will promote and grow our position on the international stage. The potential benefit of data to Scotland is colossal and by awakening business and the public to the possibilities of data, we can create significant social and economic impact.”