Scotland’s innovation centre for data and artificial intelligence (AI) has launched a membership subscription as part of plans to expand its online community.

The Data Lab Community, launched in 2021, is a forum for academics, students and professionals to connect and collaborate on data and AI related projects.

The centre says that its new “premium” service will provide further value to its members by offering additional benefits, including discounts for events and professional development opportunities.

Users will also have the ability to share job vacancies with thousands of students and professionals.

However, existing features will remain freely available to both new and existing members. 

It comes as demand for AI and data skills and interest in the sector grows internationally.

Originally launched as a response to the quickly evolving and extremely challenging pandemic landscape, The Data Lab Community recently surpassed 3,000 members.

The Data Lab Community has subsequently provided fertile territory for those looking to start or develop careers in the data and AI industry.  

It says its focus on online collaboration has proven particularly attractive to the international audience, with members from 67 countries.

This growth has seen The Data Lab Community become a central part of the innovation centre’s strategy to engage and inspire Scotland’s AI and data sector internationally. 

Paul McMillan, community manager at The Data Lab, said: “In only two years, The Data Lab Community has gone from strength to strength and become a thriving, collaborative space for individuals with a passion for data and AI to network and innovate, to drive meaningful conversations and support collaboration in data and AI.

Paul McMillan, community manager at The Data Lab. Image: Stewart Attwood.

“We’re always looking for different ways to enhance The Data Lab Community.

“We’ve spoken to several of our current members who have supported the evolution of the forum as it matures from a pandemic response to an intrinsic part of how we operate.

“Our aim is to ensure that we never take anything away from the existing community but focus on adding new value for those members who move to the subscription model. 

“The impact that The Data Lab Community has already had in terms of connecting those passionate about AI and data as well as promoting job opportunities for our members, has far surpassed our expectations.

“To maintain the growth of Scotland’s tech sector, established organisations need to prioritise nurturing the next generation of talent.” 

Additionally, The Data Lab Community has helped to facilitate more than 1,300 job opportunities for its members, the equivalent of almost 60 roles every month, since September 2021.

The latest figures cover job opportunities that have been shared on a job forum to which members have exclusive access.

The online platform has helped to bridge the widening AI and data skills gap that threatens to restrict the growth of a burgeoning Scottish success story. 

In addition to its membership reach, more than 70 events attracting more than 2,000 attendees, both on and offline, have been held through The Data Lab Community. 

People can sign up for £99 per year here.