Scotland’s innovation centre for data has launched a new digital community to contribute to economic recovery as businesses adapt to a post-pandemic and increasingly digital world.

Available to join from today following a successful pilot programme, The Data Lab Community will provide an online space where data and artificial intelligent (AI) students, leaders and professionals can connect, grow and collaborate, as well as view the latest industry jobs.

The platform will also host exclusive events, online learning courses, and a mentoring programme to connect new data and AI industry entrants with seasoned professionals, helping to tackle the current IT skills gap across Scotland and the wider UK.

Additionally, it aims to contribute to Scotland’s economic and social recovery following the disruption caused by Covid-19 by helping individuals share ideas and best practice, enabling the businesses they work for to accelerate their digital transformation journey.

Companies of all sizes have turned to technology to keep afloat over the past 18 months. The Scottish Government sees this as a crucial area of investment – announcing a £100m Digital Boost scheme to aid small businesses’ digitalisation earlier this year.  

The Data Lab Community brings together the public, private and academia sectors, and it has so far built up 200 members from some of “the world’s most innovative companies, renowned institutions and ambitious startups”.

The Data Lab Community

Brian Hills, deputy chief executive and head of service design at The Data Lab, said: “As Scotland, and the world, moves into recovery and growth, The Data Lab’s mission to help the nation maximise the economic and social value from data and AI has never been so important. The launch of The Data Lab Community plays a big part in delivering our ambition – enabling us to scale collaboration and skills development anchored in our values of innovation, growth, support and respect.

“There is a tremendous willingness in the data community to help others and The Data Lab Community will provide a catalyst for those who want to help others succeed with data and AI to connect and collaborate with those earlier in their digital journey, and help them accelerate their path to success. We’re already seeing fantastic feedback from users and have a waiting list of people and companies keen to join the digital community to encourage innovation and share best practice.”

Gigged.AI – a Scottish tech start-up that uses AI to help clients, contractors and freelancers come together to deliver digital projects – took part in The Data Lab’s pilot programme.

Rich Wilson, founder and chief executive of the company, said: “The Data Lab Community is a brilliant idea. It is a place for those involved in data and AI to network and share ideas, no matter where their business is on its digital transformation journey.

“The forum and jobs sections are great for our business, and we can see this driving real value in the industry. It is also rare to find a platform where the public and private sector can network together. I would definitely recommend any business that is looking to grow its digital capabilities makes use of the platform.”