Government backing for Highlands and Islands digital projects

New hub in Inverness will boost economy locally and nationally BY WILLIAM PEAKIN

Oliver Dowden, Minister for Implementation at the Cabinet Office, pictured

right with Stephen Coleman, CodeBase co-founder

Studies have indicated that the ‘data opportunity’ has the po- tential to deliver an estimated £20bn in business benefits to Scotland’s economy between 2015 and 2020. Digital Econ- omy Minister Kate Forbes has highlighted the recent Phase 2 funding to support Te Data Lab, Scotland’s data innovation centre, with Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) con- tributing £500,000, alongside £1m from the Scottish Govern- ment’s Digital Directorate, £2.5m from Scottish Enterprise and up to £9.5m from the Scot- tish Funding Council. Phase 2 will see the creation

use of robotics and over time AI [artificial intelligence] in process- ing everything from tax returns to welfare payments through DWP, it offers the prospect of a better, more accurate and more efficient service.” he says. He said: “I want to make sure

that the kind of ease, convenience and diversity that we are seeing more and more in the private sec- tor is also available in the public sector. I think that’s the right thing to do because people expect their public services to reflect what they have in the private sector; it’s the right thing to do in terms of delivering greater efficiency and it’s the right thing to do in terms of delivering better outcomes. We’re on the cusp now, we’ve been talking for a long time now about data, but I really think we’re on the cusp of a data revolution in terms of our ability to use data analytics. Govern- ment holds huge amounts of data and if we get this right, the UK is incredibly well placed….to im- prove the services to citizens but

also to foster a genuinely globally leading sector in terms of the use of data.” Mr Dowden said he would like

to see government open up its data and, as per the UK Gov- ernment’s Industrial Strategy, which has a big focus on AI, to use that information to improve the way government delivers its services to citizens. He said there is a “huge amount of legacy” to overcome, in terms of the way the bureaucracy works in the UK – and that we cannot be like Esto- nia, which is often trumpeted as the leading tech nation (Estonia started from scratch, effectively as a ‘new country’ when its inde- pendence was restored in 1991). But he said: “Tere’s a tremen-

dous vibrancy and strength in Scotland and in particular in Ed- inburgh. Scotland is a real global leader in data – it’s getting that aspiration but also the practical steps towards that there’s the same sort of energy around the tech sector here that you get in other hubs around the world.” l

of an Inverness hub of Te Data Lab (or TDL²), supported by HIE and Te Data Lab. TDL² hub will be co-located with HIE’s Innovation and Technol- ogy team in Inverness and will focus on data-driven innova- tion across Scotland’s rural digital economy. Te hub will be the fourth Data Lab location in Scotland along with Aber- deen, Edinburgh and Glasgow. A TDL² staff member based

in Inverness will also focus on data science skills and talent, events, and new collaborative projects. Local businesses will

have access to exciting new na- tional and international contacts and opportunities. Te hub will have a specific focus on develop- ing data talent in collaboration with Scottish universities and industry. “Te new hub in Inverness

will help develop the rural digital economy locally as well as nationally,” said Forbes, “helping to fulfil the Scottish Government’s vision that data, digital, and technology can be used to stimulate economic growth across the country.” Teresa Swayne, senior devel-

opment manager (Digital) at HIE added: “Te opportunities from the data revolution are enor- mous and we want to ensure that the Highlands and Islands is best placed to exploit them. Our new relationship with Te Data Lab provides our busi- nesses and communities with access to world class support to develop data science knowledge, skills and data driven innova- tion.” Gillian Docherty, CEO of Te

Data Lab, said: “It is fantastic to have HIE as a key partner for phase two of Te Data Lab, and we look forward to expanding our joint work further to support the community in the region on their digital journey.” l

Gillian Docherty, Kate Forbes and Theresa Swayne FUTURESCOT | SPRING 2019 | 13

Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36