Scotland’s data innovation centre, The Data Lab, has secured up to £13.5m funding from Scottish Government to boost its economic impact and create jobs.
The announcement follows the data innovation centre’s success during its first phase of activity, in which it established Scotland as an international data science hub.
Since its launch in 2014, The Data Lab has used its existing funding from the Scottish Funding Council to attract and develop data talent in Scotland.
It has created and run educational programmes and events, and provided backing to Scottish innovation projects.
The new funding was confirmed by Minister for Further Education, Higher Education & Science, Richard Lochhead. Mr Lochhead said: “This investment builds on the £100 million already invested in Scotland’s eight innovation centres, including The Data Lab, which are having a transformational effect on our economy.
“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.
“I am pleased to confirm that the Scottish Government, through the Scottish Funding Council and our Enterprise agencies, is able to invest up to £13.5m to support the Data Lab in its next phase, which will contribute to exploiting the estimated £20 billion data opportunity for Scotland’s economy by 2020.”
The new funding for Phase 2 will officially begin in April 2019 and run for five years. The funding package exists of up to £9.5 million from the Scottish Funding Council, £2.5 million from Scottish Enterprise, £1 million from the Scottish Government’s Digital Directorate and £0.5 million from Highlands and Islands Enterprise.
This new funding will allow The Data Lab to improve data innovation’s economic impact on Scotland, generate more jobs and build on its growing global reputation.
To date, The Data Lab has provided approximately £2.4m to 66 projects, with the projects’ total value reaching £6.3m.
The new funding will ensure The Data Lab continues supporting businesses across Scotland, with an expected investment of £18.9m towards over 100 new data-driven innovation projects.
In March this year, Scotland hosted DataFest18, a week-long festival of data innovation, bringing to life the collaboration overseen by The Data Lab and its engagement with the data community.
The festival reached over 3,000 individuals across 50 events in Scotland.
Gillian Docherty, CEO of The Data Lab, said: “We’re proud of the impact The Data Lab has had on Scottish business and innovation communities over the last four years and are pleased to receive further backing from the Scottish Government. The continuation of our work will help develop a strong data science community and accelerate Scotland’s economic growth.
“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 2.”
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