Chief executive appointed to lead Scotland’s innovation centre for data and artificial intelligence

Brian Hills has been confirmed as the new chief executive of Scotland’s innovation centre for data and artificial intelligence.

Hills was most recently interim chief executive of The Data Lab following the departure of Gillian Docherty in January this year. She left the organisation to take up the role of chief commercial officer at Strathclyde University.

Hills has worked at The Data Lab for the last seven years in a variety of roles including head of service design. In his new role, he will be responsible for leading the centre’s 50-plus strong team, as well as driving the growth of artificial intelligence (AI) and data science skills across the academic and business community in Scotland.

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He said: “AI and data science are at a very interesting juncture; organisations understand that they could massively gain from their execution, however, at the same time we are at the precipice of a data skills cliff.

Brian Hills takes up the role of CEO at The Data Lab immediately.

“This provides The Data Lab with a unique opportunity to grow our community that brings together organisations, data talent, academia and suppliers.

“I relish the opportunity to scale our impact in Scotland and beyond. Working closely with the team, I will continue to build on the success we have already created and continue to push for a data powered future.”

Chairman Les Bayne said: “Brian’s passion for supporting organisations to realise the power that data and AI can have is second to none. He has been an integral figure in the evolution of The Data Lab and its impact in Scotland, and is someone that brings not only technical insight but a considered approach to leadership.

“His appointment to the CEO role is much deserved and I look forward to working closely with him as we build our plans to become one of the most impactful data communities in the world.”

Docherty announced her departure in November, to take up the post at the University of Strathclyde.

Bayne said at the time: “The work and programmes achieved under the leadership of Gillian over the last six years have made a considerable difference to Scotland’s AI and data sectors and set the tone for the future of the organisation.”

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