Scotland’s innovation centre for data and AI has helped build an international data community for people in 83 countries – opening up new job opportunities.

The Data Lab Community has now reached 5,000 data and AI professionals and enthusiasts, doubling its membership numbers since last year.

Launched in September 2021 and free to join, the community offers data and AI professionals, students and enthusiasts the opportunity to connect, collaborate, learn and grow with like-minded individuals.

With members from over 80 countries, it has become a forum for academics, students and professionals to network and collaborate with people passionate about data and AI in the UK.

Several of its members have secured jobs through its job board, including Tricia Govindasamy, who joined The Data Lab Community ahead of moving to Scotland from South Africa to pursue a master’s degree in data science at the University of Strathclyde.

From making new connections, speaking at The Data Lab events, and judging an international data visualisation competition, Tricia applied for two jobs on the jobs board and was coached by The Data Lab partner DataKirk to help prepare for the interviews. She recently accepted her job as an information analyst at Public Health Scotland.

Tricia, who is also studying for an MSc in data science for politics and policymaking at the University of Strathclyde, said: “Before moving to Scotland to pursue my studies, I joined The Data Lab Community to get involved in the data and AI space and get the opportunity to network with people in the UK.

“People have been really helpful, and the knowledge and networking have exceeded my expectations. I have been able to make connections that I wouldn’t ordinarily have access to.”

Paul McMillan, community & events programme manager at The Data Lab, said: “We’re delighted to see our Community grow and develop into a thriving, collaborative space for data and AI enthusiasts in Scotland and beyond in less than three years.

“The impact The Data Lab Community has had already connecting those passionate about data and AI and adding value to our members through mentorship and job opportunities has far exceeded our expectations.

“Over 1,700 jobs have been shared through our platform, and we’re thrilled to support the Scottish tech sector, helping people like Tricia to advance their careers in data and AI.”

The Community is committed to offering an inclusive platform and providing safe spaces for underrepresented groups in data and AI to thrive. Only 24% of people working in tech in the UK are women, and 12% of the UK workforce are from a BAME background.

In contrast, almost half of The Data Lab’s Community members are women, and a quarter are from an ethnic minority background. Community sub-groups like Women in Data and AI and Neurodivergence in Data and AI support people from marginalised groups in advancing their data and AI careers by improving access to a support network and opportunities for training, upskilling and mentorship.