News & Blog

Inaugural DataFest17 a success

Posted on March 31, 2017

Last week marked the inaugural DataFest17, the first festival of data innovation underlining Scotland’s strength within the ever growing global data landscape.

Building up on the success of Data Talent Scoltand last year, we decided to go big this year. As an innovation centre, our mission is to innovate, to be bold, and to set trends. We push ourselves to do things that haven't been done before. That is how DataFest was born. We started with the idea of making Data Talent Scotland bigger, and adding a 2-day international conference. Fringe events followed, and later training events. Even schools and colleges got on board, turning this idea in one of Edinburgh's new festivals.

We were delighted to host over 2,000 people who attended 26 DataFest events throughout Scotland. The overwhelming response from all – whether school children, politicians, industry leaders, students or professors – reflected the positive buzz generated across the country, thanks to the inspiring programme and mix of world class speakers.

The dynamic mix of events included a travelling art gallery, a Datathon, Data Talent Scotland to inspire the next generation of data scientists, the two day international conference – Data Summit, a parliamentary reception, as well as school and college events.

From big data to small data, cows to serial killers, security to analytics, visualisation to fuchsias, refugees to leadership – DataFest17 really did demonstrate how #DataChangesEverything.

Speakers and attendees came from as far afield as California and New York, Spain, Ireland, Vietnam, as well as from across the UK and over 40 countries.

Mathematician and broadcaster Alex Bellos who led the ‘World’s favourite number’ schools event as well as speaking at Data Summit said, “Data Fest 2017 is another great Edinburgh festival.”

Data Summit speaker Natalia Adler, UNICEF research policy planning specialist based in New York, announced at the event that Unicef has chosen Edinburgh as its humanitarian data hub. She said: – “(Scotland has) an ecosystem of problem solvers and data-rich companies so it would make sense to see Scotland as the epicentre of this international problem-solving for good.” We can't be more proud to have had UNICEF as DataFest's charity partner, and to support their efforts in setting up in Scotland.

Just one example of the feedback we have received comes from Roderick Crawford, Director at SAS Public Sector United Kingdom and Ireland who said: “DataFest17 was an absolute triumph. Congratulations to The Data Lab team for pulling off one of the most impressive ‘inaugural’ events I have attended in a long time. The speakers, the participation, the venue were really all second to none. Thank you for inviting the SAS team to contribute and actively participate – we got a great deal out of DataFest.”

We are overwhelmed by how well the first DataFest has been received. The feedback has been fantastic and it is clear that Scotland is stamping its position on the international data stage. The event has also recognised the strength of the data community here from the grass roots up. It is essential that we invest and build on this and continue to nurture talent to attract further interest from near and far.

A big warm thank you to everyone who made DataFest possible. To our speakers, sponsors and exhibitors. To the organisations who organised fringe and training events. To everyone who participated in the events across the week. And a very special thanks to the team at WeAreTheFuture and FutureX, our amazing volunteers, and The Data Lab team, it wouldn't have been possible without you!

You can relive the buzz form last week in our Storify DataFest17 story, and see the DTS17 and DataSummit photo galleries.

See you next year!


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