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The Data Lab MSc Challenge Competition - Meet the winners!

Posted on June 07, 2017

The inaugural Data Lab MSc Challenge Competition came to an end on Sunday 21st May, after the final 48 hour hackathon and judging ceremony. The competition, which included three hack events during the academic year, brought all 90 students funded by The Data Lab’s MSc programme from seven Scottish universities together and challenged them to develop new insights, services or products that have a social or economic benefit using datasets unique to Scotland.

The winning team was The Fantastic Four, a team of students from the University of Stirling, Robert Hamlet, Peter Henriksen and Cynthia Morel, who worked with Zero Waste Scotland to analyse data from three local authorities to develop a prototype centralised data platform that will detect, predict and prevent future flytipping across Scotland. They’ve won £3,000 of funding to support their careers in Scotland through data training courses and conferences.

The judges were impressed by all the teams that sought to address issues ranging from over prescribing of medicine to eco bus routes and pollution hot-spots to encouraging Scottish tourism. The Fantastic 4 tipped the balance because their proposition was technically accomplished demonstrating a robustness that can be applied across different councils, ultimately achieving the end goal of delivering social and economic value to Scotland.


Meet the 3 top teams of The Data Lab MSc Challenge Competition


WINNERS – Fantastic Four: Robert Hamlet, Peter Henriksen and Cynthia Morel, all from University of Stirling

Fly tipping is a costly problem, which costs Scottish authorities £2.5 million a year to clean up public areas and that can damage the natural environment. The team collaborated with Zero Waste Scotland and collated data from 3 councils on fly-tipping. They then prototyped models to predict where fly-tipping hotspots would occur to assist in detecting, preventing and curing fly-tipping sites.


RUNNERS-UP – Data Betas: Richard Main, Matej Poliacek, both from University of Glasgow, and Euan Walls, University of the West of Scotland

Air pollution causes excess deaths and is a huge burden to the NHS with direct cost to the UK economy (World Health Organisation, 2010) estimated at £54bn and 29k deaths. How much pollution are you being exposed too? The team built a prototype system to join air pollution data with your personal location data to report how much pollution you have been exposed to. This could aid in suggesting alternative, cleaner routes for your commute or provide patient information to health professionals.


THIRD PLACE – The Control Group: Lauren Fairlie, Fiona Leitch, Philip Butlin, from University of Stirling, Johannes Postma, University of Dundee and David Treadgold, University of Strathclyde

Glasgow is among the most polluted cities in Europe. Air pollution targets must be met by local transport providers to reduce the public health burden of pollution in the city. The Control group conducted a piece of analysis to advise local transport providers on how to best allocate buses with green technology to minimise the impact on air pollution.


Here is a video summarising the 2016/17 MSc Challenge Competition:

The challenge competition awards come with confirmation that The Data Lab is increasing its MSc programme by 45% from 90 to 130 funded places with support from The European Social Fund and Scottish Funding Council, as part of our commitment to address Scotland’s data skills shortage.

The programme is designed to address the skills shortage and ensure students are prepared with the technical, creative and business skills to make an impact as soon as they step through the door of their first job.

Visit our MSc page to learn about The Data Lab MSc programme for 2017/18. Apply now to secure your scholarship!



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