Scotland should be ‘epicentre of international problem-solving’

UNICEF’s Natalia Adler

The inaugural DataFest17, dubbed a festival of data innovation, was a “huge success” and has underlined Scotland’s strength within the ever growing global data landscape, say organisers. More than 2,000 people attended 24 DataFest events throughout Scotland.

They included a travelling art gallery, a Datathon, a Data Talent event to inspire the next generation of data scientists, Data Summit, a two-day international conference, a parliamentary reception, as well as school and college events. “From big data to small data, cows to serial killers, security to analytics, visualisation to fuchsias, refugees to leadership – DataFest17 really did demonstrate how data an change everything,” said a spokesperson.

Speakers came from as far afield as California and New York in the United States and Spain as well as from across the UK. Mathematician and broadcaster Alex Bellos who led the ‘World’s favourite number’ schools event as well as speaking at Data Summit said: “Data Fest 2017 is another great Edinburgh festival.” Fellow speaker Natalia Adler, UNICEF research policy planning specialist based in New York, announced at the event that the organisation had chosen Edinburgh as its humanitarian data hub. She said: “(Scotland has) an ecosystem of problem solvers and data-rich companies so it would make sense to see Scotland as the epicentre of this international problem-solving for good.”

Roderick Crawford, director of public sector United Kingdom and Ireland at SAS, added: “DataFest17 was an absolute triumph. Congratulations to The Data Lab team for pulling off one of the most impressive ‘inaugural’ events I have attended in a long time. The speakers, the participation, the venue were really all second to none. Thank you for inviting the SAS team to contribute and actively participate – we got a great deal out of DataFest.”

Gillian Docherty, chief executive of The Data Lab, said: “We are overwhelmed by how well the first DataFest has been received. The feedback has been fantastic and it is clear that Scotland is stamping its position on the international data stage. The event has also recognised the strength of the data community here from the grass roots up. It is essential that we invest and build on this and continue to nurture talent to attract further interest from near and far. The data industry is predicted to contribute £20bn to Scotland’s economy by 2020 and DataFest17 demonstrated how much of an appetite there is from both individuals and businesses around learning about the commercial possibilities of data.”

DataFest17 was organised by The Data Lab in partnership with Scottish Enterprise and sponsored by Sainsbury’s Bank, Aquila Insight, SAS, Deloitte and IBM.  UNICEF was the festival’s charity partner.