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Jarmo Eskelinen, director of the DDI programme, is overseeing the development of five data hubs,


including the new Edinburgh Futures Institute and supercomputing power at the Edinburgh International Data Facility


Robotarium at Heriot Watt Uni- versity is scheduled to open. Te Edinburgh Futures Institute (EFI) – an interdisciplinary hub for social and data science, the arts, and humanities – will occupy the restored Old Royal Infirmary in the city’s Quartermile in 2022. Te new HQ of the Usher Institute for people, populations and their data will open in 2023 at Edin- burgh Bioquarter, near the city’s main hospital in Little France


Tere is a wider play to all of


this strategic investment, of course. Outside of London, Edinburgh’s tech sector is well regarded and the city’s CodeBase is the UK’s largest technology incubator, a thriving mix of coders, entrepreneurs and socially-minded technologists. Te DDI programme, like many government-backed initiatives, has a number of social and economic goals at its core, including deliver- ing ‘inclusive growth’, which aims


to positively contribute to long- term societal goals.


Using public sector data more productively, and equitably, has the potential to reshape health- care services, for example. Te ‘NHS Data Loch’ project pools the electronic health records of the East Lothian region in a machine learning environment and makes it possible to ask new questions from old data. Last year, researchers


used data of over 40,000 patients to study sex-specific laboratory thresholds for heart disease and re- vealed fives times more additional women than men with myocardial injury. AI systems accessing health data can also be used for virtual clinical trials which might be able to simulate the outcomes of a therapy, making it possible to avoid costly real-world trials doomed to fail. Crucially, there’s potential for considerable commercial benefits ➜


FUTURESCOT | SPRING 2020 | 9


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