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DataFest Attracts Global Data Leaders to UK

Posted on January 24, 2017

With just two months to go until the pioneering week-long data science festival, DataFest17, two more high profile speakers have been confirmed. Hilary Mason, former chief scientist at bitly and founder of Fast Forward Labs in New York, and Nuria Oliver, former scientific director at Telefonica who holds a Ph.D. from the Media Lab at MIT and is a Fellow of the European Association of Artificial Intelligence, will attend the Edinburgh event.

The Data Lab is behind the festival that takes place 20th to 24th March 2017 with a comprehensive programme events across Scotland promoting and celebrating data innovation under the banner #DataChangesEverything.

The so-called ‘big data rock star’, Hilary Mason said: “Increasingly organisations are waking up to the potential of data. Chief technology and information officers are being called upon to actually have a strategic vision for what the business can be capable of through the technology. Technology is not merely about facilitating other parts of the business – it is core to the operational goals. DataFest17 recognises and celebrates the massive potential of data. I’m thrilled to be a part of it, meet other data leaders and to find out more about some of the innovative initiatives underway on that side of the Atlantic.”

Mason and Oliver will speak at the Data Summit part of the data festival, a two-day international conference held in Edinburgh over 23 and 24 March. The first day of the summit will focus on ‘proof’ - current applications, experience and challenges in delivering value from data. The second day will focus on ‘hypothesis’ - the future of data.

Other Data Summit confirmed speakers include:

  • John Akred, CTO, Silicon Valley Data Science
  • Dr Hannah Fry, UCL lecturer and presenter of BBC TV’s The Joy of Data
  • Marc Priestley, former Mclaren F1 data scientist and expert in British racing technology
  • Tim Harford , The Undercover Economist
  • Stewart Whiting, Co-Founder and Data Science Lead at Snap40
  • Jason Leitch, National Clinical Director, Scottish Government
  • Alex Bellos, science and maths writer, columnist at The Guardian
  • Alan Nelson, IT and information law lawyer at CMS.


As well as the Data Summit, DataFest17 also comprises:

  • Data Talent Scotland on 22nd March 2017 in Edinburgh - a one day event bringing together over 500 attendees linking data talent from universities with industry and public sector organisations.

  • Fringe events – taking place Scotland wide w/c 20th March 2017 - events around Scotland exploring/hacking/debating data innovation. Confirmed events so far include:
    • Fintech Edinburgh – Innovators from the fintech sector will showcase how they are using data and what open banking will mean for the future.
    • The Travelling Gallery (Bus) - a data driven artists exhibition based outside Assembly Rooms on George Street.
    • Smarter Tourism: Shaping Glasgow’s Data Plan – on the back of the £24m Technology Strategy Board-funded Future City Glasgow programme, this event, supported by The Data Lab, the Future Cities Institute and Scottish Enterprise, will feed insight and ideas into the next stage of data-led tourism innovation.
  • Training - w/c 20th March 2017, Edinburgh and other locations – a programme of training events from practical data science to leadership.
    • The University of Edinburgh will be running its third annual deep learning workshop on 21st March, attracting over 200 local and international delegates.


Gillian Docherty, CEO of The Data Lab, said: “Momentum is building for DataFest17 – in just two months we’ll welcome insight and debate from international academics, businesses and public services on how #DataChangesEverything. The packed programme will showcase data innovation and catalyse further activity while underlining Scotland’s leading role in data on the global stage.

“We want to ensure that people across the world look to Scotland’s data science community as a benchmark for the future of data science. The festival is a platform that not only celebrates the work on data that is being led from Scotland but crucially encourages others to leverage the power of data.”

DataFest17 is supported by a number of organisations including analytics firm, Aquila Insight, Sainsbury’s Bank as well as CMS and NHS Scotland.

Jonathan Forbes, Aquila Insight CTO said: "If you want to meet a rock star data scientist and engineering leader, Hilary Mason is at the top of your list. From the Wall Street Journal to Glamour magazine, Hilary Mason is the creative, enthusiastic voice of data science.

“Her presence underlines the calibre of DataFest 17. We are proud to support this exciting event."

Early bird tickets are available until Friday 27 January, with a 20% discount.





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