Case studies

Our collaboration projects between the public sector, industry and academia bring a real impact to Scotland.


Brainnwave: Data Citation Project


Brainnwave was established in May 2015 by Don Baker and Steve Coates. It is an online data discovery and access marketplace, specialising in geospatial data, which aims to slash the time and resources spent finding the right data to address specific organisational challenges.

The Data Lab supported Brainnwave in funding an academic partnership with the University of Edinburgh and The University of Glasgow, to allow Brainnwave to develop the technology behind the unique data marketplace platform.

The Data Challenge

By 2020, 44 trillion gigabytes of data will have been created. According to Forbes, less than 0.5 per cent of all data is currently analysed and used. In data science it is typically found that 80 per cent of time and resource is spent finding the right data and only 20 per cent analysing it. Brainnwave aims to address this 80:20 paradigm by making data easy to find and use instantly from its platform.

The Data Project

Brainnwave approached The Data Lab to support its proposed Data Citation Project. Its aim was to research how data is referenced or labelled and how this supports the discovery and reuse of data.

Building on that research, the project employs citation harvesting at scale and machine learning to develop a database of this data. This is to demonstrate how data science methods can inform the next generation of resource search and discovery.

The Data Lab enabled Brainnwave to partner with both the University of Edinburgh and The University of Glasgow, which allowed Brainnwave to develop the technology behind the project and build its search platform.

The Platform

The platform currently specialises in geospatial data. This type of data can cut across industry boundaries where a health application could use geospatial insights to help understand disease spread geographically whereas the renewable energy sector may find specific geo data from dedicated drones hugely useful in monitoring and planning their windfarm maintenance programme.

For example, Brainnwave currently works with UNICEF to provide access to geospatial data and analytics to help track refugees in Somalia and allocate resources and refuge for the displaced populations. The partnership was established following Brainnwave’s participation on a Data Lab and Scottish Development International funded trade trip to New York, where UNICEF’s Data, Research, Policy Planning Specialist is based.

Steve Coates, Brainnwave founder, explains: “Data drives decisions. Brainnwave wants to make managing your data library as easy as managing your music, photo and video libraries online. We are tackling the access challenge head on by making it easier and faster to find the data needed. This allows users to concentrate on unlocking innovation rather than on finding and accessing the data in the first place. The transparent pricing policy means users only ever pay for what they need and can have the confidence that the data is reliable. When time is money it makes sense to focus resources on generating the insights that inform strategic decisions rather than on searching for the relevant data in the first place.”

Find out more about the collaboration between Brainnwave and UNICEF: