DataFest - Scotland’s Festival of Data innovation

Unlocking the power of #BigData 

By Fraser Macdonald, DataFest Delivery Manager at The Data Lab 

We all create personal data. Taken together on a national level this creates #BigData - but how do we glean understanding, actionable insights and create value? DataFest looks to provide the answers.

 DataFest is the UK’s first festival of Data Innovation. Starting in 2017, it’s one of Scotland’s newest festivals, aimed at showcasing the growing data science community here in Scotland. With over 60 events and 4500 participants across the country between March 11th and 22nd, DataFest19 is set to be the biggest yet. But where did it all begin?

Now into its 3rd year, the festival has been extended to two weeks to follow on from the success of DataFest18, which saw in excess of 3,000 participants, and over 45 events, including hackathons, networking and inspiring workshop sessions for school pupils stretching from Edinburgh and Glasgow to Inverness, Dundee, and Aberdeen. We are very proud that DataFest18 has been shortlisted for the Best Business Event category at the Scottish Thistle Awards.

DataFest is run by The Data Lab, one of eight innovation centres. Funded by the Scottish Funding Council since 2013, the innovation centres programme accelerates innovation and technological advances by forging new collaborations, with the aim of helping Scotland achieve economic and social benefit. For The Data Lab, this is achieved from leveraging data science. Since its creation, The Data Lab has become the place to bring key data related questions and to access support to develop impactful solutions. Implicitly, The Data Lab is the catalyst for engagement and the critical interface between industry, academia and government, making connections, enabling collaboration, introducing new talent and pulling it all together as a trusted and independent advisor. We believe data can bring communities together because it opens opportunities for everyone, regardless of industry sector or background.

That is how DataFest started. Building on a successful inaugural Data Talent Scotland in 2016, it was clear there was an appetite from a growing data community for a data networking platform. The team decided it was time to be bold and push for more. We imagined a whole festival focused on data innovation, covering the whole country and a range of different industries, and we went for it!

The theme for DataFest19 will be collaboration and doing #datatogether. It is a celebration of the groups, collectives, communities, and teams who together have envisioned a path for data’s future and are taking steps to implement it. 

The festival is built around 6 core elements; Data Summit, Data Talent Scotland, Women in Data Science, an Executive Dinner, the Fringe Programme, and DataTech.

Data Summit sits at the fore of the DataFest programme, showcasing compelling stories on data-driven innovation with keynotes, panels, and pitches. Data Summit brings together data leaders and practitioners across industry, the public sector and academia. We strongly believe bringing these communities together to collaborate is a key ingredient towards data driven innovation.

Data Talent Scotland brings together aspiring data science and engineering students with employers from across the country. The event focuses on developing the skills that data talent need to help achieve Scotland’s data-driven future prosperity and provide an opportunity to network, discuss and learn from some of Scotland’s leading data leaders, professionals and researchers.

DataFest19 will also include for the first time, DataTech, a new Technical Day event bringing together technical communities, practitioners and academics working on similar challenges across different sectors to learn from one another and forge new collaborations to benefit both themselves and their organisations.

The DataFest Fringe programme aims to support collaboration and community through a series of independent events across Scotland exploring, hacking and debating data innovation. For 2019, events can include meetups, hackathons, debates, public engagement, training programmes and any innovative activities focused on how to harness #DataTogether. Fringe events are run by external partners under the DataFest banner.

As part of Stanford University's Women In Data Science initiative, DataFest19 will host an event that celebrates women, tech, innovation and codebreaking. This year, we have teamed up with the Turing's Testers, a group of motivated pupils and STEM ambassadors; inspiring, engaging and supporting school girls into the technology sector.

To purchase tickets or learn more about the events happening across DataFest19 visit www.DataFest.Global

With thanks to Gillian Docherty, Fraser Macdonald and everyone at the Data Lab.

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