Claude Wangen -

Scottish government pumps £13.5m into The Data Lab

Funding will help data innovation centre to explore data opportunities for Scotland’s economy

The Data Lab has received £13.5m in funding from the Scottish government as part of the second phase of its project to drive data innovation across the country.  

The Data Lab was launched in 2014 and, in the first phase of the innovation centre’s plans, has used its funding to develop and attract local talent across Scotland, running educational programmes and events, as well as backing Scottish innovation projects. 

This new funding for phase two of the programme will begin in April 2019 and is split between up to £9.5m from the Scottish Funding Council, £2.5m from Scottish Enterprise, £1m from the government’s digital directorate and £500,000 from the Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

The Data Lab, one of eight government-backed data innovation centres, aims to use the funding to improve the economic impact of data innovation across Scotland, generate more jobs and grow the country’s reputation internationally. 

Richard Lochhead, Scottish minister for further education, higher education and science, said the funding is part of a boost to data innovation centres across the country to “contribute to exploiting the estimated £20bn data opportunity for Scotland’s economy by 2020”. 

“This investment builds on the £100m already invested in Scotland’s eight innovation centres, including The Data Lab, which are having a transformational effect on our economy,” he said. 

“Scottish universities excel in data science. Together with the country’s rich data resources and advanced infrastructure, this provides the ideal environment for The Data Lab to thrive, benefiting industry, the third sector and public services.” 

So far, The Data Lab has worked on enhancing Scotland’s economic output using data, creating 250 high-value data jobs.

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Earlier this year, The Data Lab CEO Gillian Docherty told Computer Weekly that the centre had also sponsored three cohorts of MSc students at Scottish universities so far.

Since 2015, more than 500 students have taken part in The Data Lab’s education programme, which includes industrial doctorates and executive education activities, as well as support for students on MSc courses. 

Commenting on the latest funding, which will enable the centre to move on to phase two of the project, Docherty said she was proud of The Data Lab’s impact so far.

“The continuation of our work will help develop a strong data science community and accelerate Scotland’s economic growth,” she said. 

“The Data Lab has built a vibrant, supportive and effective data community across Scotland. The success we’ve had means we’re in a great position to continue to collaborate with the Scottish and international community on data science and artificial intelligence innovation during phase two.”

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