London data science summer school approaches PhD grads

A summer school aimed at turning quantitative PhD graduates, from the UK and other European countries, into data scientists is being held in London this summer, at the University of Westminster

A summer school aimed at turning 100 to 150 recent quantitative PhD graduates, from the UK and other European countries, into data scientists is being held in London this summer, at the University of Westminster.

KPMG is sponsoring the data science summer school, organised by recruitment firm Pivigo, and being held in August.

The idea for the school was conceived by Kim Nilsson, a Swedish astrophysicist who co-founded Pivigo.

Alwin Magimay, head of data and analytics at KPMG, said the students will spend the latter part of the five-week course working on problems advanced by the firm’s clients in retail, banking and telecommunications.

“Big data is out there, and all our clients chasing its economic value. But we do not have enough data scientists. Behind that are two trends. We see big data becoming anonymous as people’s concerns about big data privacy reach a tipping point. And companies need to move from being collectors to being connectors of data.”

KPMG’s sponsorship of the school is part of an approach to digital and analytics that Magimay said is distinctive. It is based on a perception that there are six “disruptive forces [digital] either creating or destroying economic value: mobile, cloud, analytics, social media, cyber-security and gamification. Our job here is to use the forces to converge to create economic value for our clients. That is our framework.”

Last year the firm set up KPMG Capital, a global investment fund that will invest primarily in data and analytics businesses. Magimay said the firm is being overwhelmed by the response to that funding opportunity.

In January of this year KPMG announced a partnership with the Chelsea Apps Factory, which designs and produces of mobile enterprise apps. This it presented as part of a ‘Digital Innovation Network’ that aims to bring together the firm’s industry knowledge and experience with the creativity and design skills of early stage start- up companies.

“In the nineties the smartest people worked for large companies, and there are still smart people there”, said Magimay, “but now they are in small start-ups”. KPMG has set up shop in TechCity in Shoreditch, London, and Magimay said he has seen evidence that the UK is experiencing more small business formation in technology than any other western economy.

The summer school is part of a Science to Data Science (S2DS) project, initiated by Pivigo’s Kim Nilsson, who said “KPMG is a dream partner for us to have. It’s a highly innovative firm with a long track-record of excellence in data and analytics and we are confident that with the support through this partnership S2DS 2014 will be a success both for our students and our other partner companies.”

Candidates with a PhD in analytical science and a proven data analysis background and statistical knowledge can apply at

Read more on Big data analytics