DataFest18 to showcase Scotland’s £20bn place on global data stage

Gillian Docherty, CEO, The Data Lab

Every aspect of our lives today is data-driven. Being technically savvy is the new norm. From downloading music to tracking our exercise and ordering the weekly shop, through to crime prevention and medical diagnosis.

It’s also worth an estimated £20 billion to the Scottish economy. That is why at The Data Lab, we do everything in our power to help Scotland realise the full potential of data. 

DataFest18, the second outing for The Data Lab festival, will support “data warriors”, whatever their core profession or industry, by providing inspiration, tools and leadership skills to make a difference. In the countdown to DataFest18, which runs from 19th to 23rd March, the final programme agendas for key elements of the festival - Data Summit and Data Talent - are now in place. 

The festival has attracted exciting, world-class speakers, including BBC Broadcaster Hannah Fry, American mathematician, blogger and author of “Weapons of math destruction,” Cathy O’Neil, while data scientist Dr Kirk Borne will be hosted by Maggie Philbin OBE. The event also features a keynote from MSP Derek Mackay, Cabinet Secretary for Finance in the Scottish Government.

The events will showcase the nation’s leading role in data innovation on the international stage and the programme has been designed specifically to appeal to as wide an audience as possible. The range of topics to be discussed is diverse, from life as a data scientist to data-driven public innovation. One key area of focus will be the ethical application of data science and the development of transparency in how algorithms process citizen’s data. 

The theme for the festival is “data-driven innovation” with a special focus on collaboration. Working across different sectors is key to supporting Scotland’s data warriors. By bringing diverse industries, expertise and data together, the huge potential of data can be realised through the disruption across sectors - all areas, from personal health to smart transport, from shopping to energy efficiency, from business to public services and beyond. 

The festival also incorporates over 40 fringe events, including hackathons, debates and workshops taking place across Scotland during the festival week. Fringe event hosts include Aberdeen University, Strathclyde University, New College Lanarkshire, law firm Burness Paull, the National Health Service Scotland, Edinburgh Tourism Action Group and CivTech, the Scottish Government organisation which harnesses new technologies to drive daring and innovation in the public sector.

As such, DataFest18 will promote the benefits of data-driven problem solving further than ever before. The sheer number of events taking place showcases Scotland’s place as a burgeoning centre for data on a global scale.

The success of last year’s DataFest showed there is a strong appetite for data innovation in Scotland. It attracted over 2,500 participants from 64 countries and 450 organisations and was praised for the quality of its speakers, diversity of its events and the inspiration it sparked. Most importantly it helped to underline Scotland’s leadership on the global data stage. We are looking forward to building on that success this year. 

Data Fest 18 takes place throughout Scotland 19th to 23rd March. The full programmes can be viewed here.

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