both delivering upon ambitious aims to make the city-region the ‘data capital of Europe’. At the FutureScot conference on March 7, it was clear that the fiv e ‘data hubs’ – the Bayes Centre, the Usher Institute, the Edinburgh Futures Institute, Easter Bush and Te National Robotarium, all backed by ‘world-class data in- frastructure’ and supercomput- ing capacity – will herald a new era of economic development, which will see the training up of 100,000 data-skilled workers in the next decade. In contrast, and although still in its infancy, there was concern that the Tay Cities Deal was spread too thinly across a range of sectors to position the region as a world leader in any one field. One of the most interesting observa- tions came from Sir Michael Ferguson, Regius Professor of Life Sciences at the University of Dundee, who said that the city lacked suitable accommodation for spin-off companies in bio- tech, bio-pharma and med-tech Too often, he said, fledgling life sciences businesses were lured out of the city, which he said is rated among the top places in the world for life sciences, by better offers. He said of three re- cent spin-off companies, two are in Canada and one is Germany. “I don’t want to see that hap- pening anymore,” he said. His three-point plan was that there needs to be greater investment in “pre-incubation” facilities to keep new companies growing on campus before they transfer, there needs to be “excellent ac- commodation” to put them in when they move and that there needs to be a package of special- ist business support and training to help them grow. Above all, there needs to be seed funding which is the vital ingredient in scaling them up to succeed in the era of unicorn companies. Sir Michael is one of the UK’s leading life sciences experts, and on the Board of Governors for the Wellcome Trust and Deal partners will no doubt pay heed to his comments as they move towards the drawing down of funding for the various projects. l

Tartan makeover on the cards for Turing Fest

Turing Fest could be in line for a tartan makeover as it prepares to host over 3,000 delegates this August. Te annual tech conference,

hosted during the Edinburgh Fes- tival, introduce the national fabric to pink kilts to boost its ‘experi- ential’ offering to attendees. Brian Corcoran, Chief Execu-

tive of Turing Fest, said he was considering using tartan as a way of linking the event to the ‘place’ in which it is held. Speaking at EventIt, the

Scottish annual events show in Glasgow, he said: “Something I’d like to do and we haven’t done it yet, but I think we’re going to try and develop ‘Tartan for Turing Fest’ and maybe the speakers get a kilt, or something like that. And whether they ever wear it, who knows, but that becomes a unique thing, right. If you’re bouncing around your office in San Francisco in this bizarre pink Scottish kilt, people are go- ing to go, ‘woah, where did you get that?’” Corcoran was taking part

in a panel discussion on the importance of ‘festivalisation’ in business events, which has been led by the technology indus- try in introducing elements of

Brian Corcoran, pictured left, speaking at EventIt, the annual Scottish events show

entertainment to traditionally business-focused conferences. Turing Fest has grown from

600 attendees in 2016 to an expected 3,000-plus this year, putting it on a growth trajectory which is similar to the world- leading event Web Summit in its early years. Corcoran paid tribute to

Woodstock and the hippy move- ment in the US, which laid the foundations for the technol- ogy industry of today, particu- larly from tech hotbeds such as San Francisco. He said it is not unsurprising that festivals

have played a part in creating a ‘cultural shift’ that shapes the modern tech conference experi- ence. He said delegates expect to be educated, enthralled and entertained and leave an event feeling like they have learned something about the place in which it is hosted. Turing Fest announced its

first round of 2019 speakers last month, with Hana Abaza, direc- tor of marketing at £17bn ecom- merce platform Shopify and Erin Platts, incoming Head of EMEA at Silicon Valley Bank, topping the bill. Visit l

Exascale can help prepare us for disasters, says supercomputing expert Mark Parsons, Director of the

A new wave of supercomputers that calculate at a rate of a billion-billion calculations per second can help predict the impact of hurricanes. Te coming era of exascale

machines have the potential to transform our understanding of the world, through modelling complex weather patterns.

Edinburgh Parallel Computing Centre at the University of Edin- burgh, described just one of the applications of exascale models at FutureScot’s Digital Cities & Regions conference for Edinburgh & South East Scotland last month. He said how an exascale model was able to predict the height of a

buoy at the entrance of New York Harbour after Hurricane Sandy hit the US east coast in 2012. He said: “You can see from an

economic point of view..the value to knowing the damage that will be done by a hurricane is vitally im- portant. Tere are direct economic reasons we can argue we should invest in this.” l


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