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DataFest18: What a week!

After a bit of a long weekend reflecting (and recovering) on what went on last week, we couldn’t be happier with the second edition of DataFest. This year we went bigger, and it paid off. We learned from the inaugural DataFest17, listened to what people had to say, and accomplished another successful delivery of what now feels like a well-established Scottish festival.

DataFest18 was a celebration of data-driven innovation, and was applauded for its focus on the potential positive power of the ethical use of data. From predicting pandemics and childhood obesity to enhancing B2B payments and earthquake response, examples showcased how data can be used for good. DataFest18 celebrated all the Data Warriors who, data scientists or not, understand and help drive the power of data innovation in their own companies and industries, while encouraging others to become Data Warriors too.

In its third edition, Data Talent Scotland saw about 300 data science and engineering students mix with a number of Scotland’s leading employers including Royal Bank of Scotland, SAS and Merkle Aquila. We had the largest number of recruiting companies yet, and we are already hearing of job interviews happening as a result of the event. Inspiring speakers included Lydia Nicholas, Futurologist and Senior Researcher at Nesta, Roger Halliday, Chief Statistician at the Scottish Government and Stephen Breslin, CEO of the Glasgow Science Centre.

Data Summit, the two-day international conference held in Edinburgh, saw headline speakers come from far and wide including Dr. Hannah Fry who gave insights on the BBC Pandemic project she’s leading on, Alex Dupledge MBE, founder of and former CEO of, Stefaan Verhulst, Co-founder and Chief Research and Development Officer, The Gov Lab, and Dr. Kirk Borne, Principal Data Scientist at Booz Allen, PhD Astrophysicist and top Data Science Influencer. It attracted over 450 attendees who also had the chance to network with attendees from around the globe. Data Summit also showcased some of the best examples of data innovation in Scotland.

Over 40 Fringe Events took place across Scotland including hackathons, networking and inspiring workshop sessions for school pupils stretching from Edinburgh and Glasgow to Inverness, Dundee and Aberdeen. This is almost double the number of events held last year, which demonstrates the interest and willingness of the data and tech community across Scotland to discuss and get involved in data driven innovation.

We would like to thank everyone who took part in DataFest18, to our partners and sponsors, to the amazing FutureX team who helped us run Data Talent and Data Summit, to all our fantastic speakers and presenters, to every team and organisation who organised fringe events across Scotland, to our PR and PA teams at Grayling, to our incredible volunteers,to our designers, photographers, videographers, caterers, AV team, venues, hosts, and everyone who supported, attended and participated in any way in DataFest18. It really was an amazing week, and it wouldn’t have been possible without you!

As brilliantly put by Jonathan Forbes, who hosted our last panel discussion on Friday, “Never underestimate the power of a small group of people to change the world, because it is usually what does”. We couldn’t agree more, and it is part of our mission to create those connections within the Scottish community to drive change, and to use data for good. Here is to an even better DataFest19!

We will be sharing photos, videos and podcasts of the events soon, so make sure you subscribe to our Data Lab newsletter, the DataFest mailing list and our YouTube channel to get notified when they go live.

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