Scotland’s first datathon attracts top industry names

‘A huge number of businesses could benefit from the latent potential of their data’ Kent Mackenzie

Business advisory firm Deloitte is hosting Scotland’s first datathon over two days next week, as part of the DataFest17. It will bring together Scotland’s top data scientists and fintech entrepreneurs at Deloitte’s new Greenhouse facility in Edinburgh. Participants will compete to solve challenges; testing their ability to analyse data, visualise and present their findings, and develop a product proposition.

Modelled on hackathons, datathons are intense 24-hour workshops in which researchers turn information into knowledge. Rather than designing apps for mobile devices, competitors query datasets to extract information related to a specific question or topic. Speakers at the event include Gavin Littlejohn, founder of Money Dashboard, Steve Tigar, chief executive at Money Dashboard, Ed Molyneux, founder and chief executive of FreeAgent and James Varga, chief executive of The ID co. They will talk about how they are using data in their businesses and what open banking will mean for the future of financial services.

Last August, the Competition and Markets Authority published the final report of its three year investigation into the retail banking market. One of the recommended reforms being implemented is open banking which will enable personal customers and small businesses to share their data securely with other banks and with third parties, allowing them to compare products on the basis of their own requirements and to manage their accounts from third party apps. An open banking implementation organisation is working with nine established banks, as well as challenger banks, fintech firms and others to define and develop the required APIs (application programme interfaces), security and messaging standards that underpin will open banking.

At the datathon, there will be prizes on offer from Deloitte’s technology and industry partners as well as mentoring from the firm. Competitors will be judged based on the maturity and uniqueness of their insight, the quality of their visualisations, and the feasibility of what a potential service or product offering could look like.

Kent Mackenzie, panellist at the datathon and director at Deloitte, said: “Data is playing an increasingly important role in businesses across every sector – not just in technology, fintech, telecommunications, or fundamental science. We have some of the world’s top data scientists in Scotland and a buoyant ecosystem of established companies and start-ups – a resource that could be better used if more organisations understood what data can unlock.

“Scotland’s first datathon could not come at a more apt time: there are a huge number of businesses which could benefit from turning the latent potential of their data into something transformative. This event could help them take the first step forward.”

More information about the datathon here and register here.

The datathon is a fringe event at DataFest17, the festival of data innovation. The week-long festival takes place across Scotland on 20-24 March 2017, with support from the Data Lab, Scottish Enterprise, and Sainsbury’s Bank.

Brian Hills, head of data at The Data Lab, added: “We all benefit from data every single day. Better data allows services to be more efficient, transparent and personalised. The potential benefit of data to Scotland is vast, and by awakening businesses and the public to the possibilities of data, through activities such as the datathon, we can create significant social and economic impact for Scotland.”