Data projects double in a year, creating 250 jobs and adding £70m to the economy

Gillian Docherty, recently named chief executive of the year

The number of data science projects supported by Scottish innovation centre, The Data Lab, has more than doubled in the last year to 52. It means the projected contribution to the Scottish economy has increased to £70m, from £34m this time last year, creating 250 jobs in the process 250 jobs, including 190 high-value roles.

“There is no doubt, Scotland is seizing the data opportunity,” said the Data Lab’s Gillian Docherty, who was recently recognised as chief executive of the year at the Digital Technology Awards organised by trade body ScotlandIS. “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.  It’s encouraging to see so many seeking innovative data led solutions to their challenges.

“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.”

Case study: Helping Brainnwave generate international connections

The Data Lab, in partnership with Scottish Development International, supported an overseas trip to New York in December to showcase Scotland’s data offering and encourage international partnerships. As a result, Edinburgh-based data start-up, Brainnwave secured a partnership with UNICEF to provide geo-spatial data and analytics to help track refugees in Somalia and allocate resources and refuge for the displaced populations. Brainnwave is an online data discovery and access marketplace, specialising in geo-spatial data, which aims to significantly reduce the time and resources spent finding the right data (from the trillions of gigabytes of data that is increasing minute by minute) to address specific organisational challenges. Brainnwave partnered with The Data Lab which funded an academic partnership with the University of Edinburgh and The University of Glasgow, to allow Brainnwave to develop the technology behind the unique data marketplace platform.

Scotland’s growing reputation in the global data landscape was cemented by the success of the inaugural DataFest at the end of March which attracted more than 2,000 delegates from over 40 countries and hosted world-renowned 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. 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.”

Case study: Supporting NEL use data to help oil and gas industry improve productivity

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 to perform complex data analysis of large data sets generated from pipeline equipment used in the oil and gas industry. The analysis will predict future trends and forecast potential issues before they become costly problems. The cost reductions associated with improving flow measurement allocation and carrying out less calibration and maintenance procedures could translate to billions of pounds saved for the oil and gas industry every year. Even a 1 per cent increase in oil productivity through reduced flow issues and improved well optimisation facilitated by more accurate meters would equate to £178m in increased revenue in the UK.