A major initiative launched by the University of Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt University, including plans to improve digital skills across south east Scotland, is supporting collaborations with partners.

The £661m Data-Driven Innovation initiative is a key part of the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal, announced earlier this year. The venture is set to transform Edinburgh and its surrounding area into the data capital of Europe.

Among its aims is the training of 100,000 people in data skills over the next decade, from computer science specialists to traditional jobs that will increasingly use data.

The City Region Deal aims to drive growth for everyone across the area and includes investment in transport, housing, culture and skills and employability.

Edinburgh University’s Senior Vice-Principal Charlie Jeffrey said: “Our strengths in data science have been driving innovation in the public and private sectors for the past decade and more, through our research and the skills our graduates bring into the regional economy.

“The City Region Deal gives us the capacity to do much more across a wider range of sectors, including healthcare, robotics and fintech. But perhaps the most important part of the Deal is our commitment to ensure people in the region can build the skills to flourish in the data-driven economy.”

Since the Deal was signed in August, the Data-Driven Innovation initiative has supported a number of collaborations with regional partners.

In September, an internet of things workshop was delivered for staff and pupils at Newbattle High School in Midlothian and a graduate apprenticeship in data science was launched in conjunction with accounting and business services firm PwC.

More recently, Royal Bank of Scotland opened a data innovation research unit in the University’s new Bayes Centre, to work with analytics experts and improve customer experience.

The region’s supercomputing capabilities will also be strengthened with investment in a data analysis facility, which will help 1,000 organisations use data to innovate within their sectors.

Download a PDF of FutureScot Magazine in The Times Scotland 15.12.18.