Data Lab to launch MSc in data science and analytics

Scotland’s publicly-funded innovation centre for data science is gearing up to launch master’s degree courses in an attempt to build the nation’s skills in the growing arena of “big data”.

Gillian Docherty, second from left, with the Data Lab team. Picture: Jane Barlow

Data Lab, launched last year with £11.3 million from the Scottish Funding Council, has already worked with more than 80 organisations to forge closer links between industry, the public and voluntary sectors and academia.

The MSc courses will begin next month through a collaboration with Aberdeen’s Robert Gordon University and Dundee and Stirling universities, with 40 sponsored places on offer to candidates.

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Gillian Docherty, Data Lab chief executive, told Scotland on Sunday: “We are looking for industry partners for students to go on three-month placements with. Skills and education have to be part of the centre’s agenda, to help companies recruit the right talent and expertise.”

ScottishPower has already been involved in a project with the University of Strathclyde to help get the most out of its transmission network, and Docherty said data analytics could also be used in the manufacturing and oil and gas sectors.

“If you can predict when machinery or production lines are going to fail, it can be a significant advantage if fixes can be implemented before it becomes a proper outage,” said the former leader of IBM’s software business north of the Border.

She added: “We’re focused on data science and analytics. The breadth of sectors we can support is excellent, as every organisation, regardless of size, has issues around data and how they exploit it.

“We’re here to either help kick-start that or help them progress down that journey.”

Docherty said the state-backed centre would eventually seek other income streams, “but we’re certainly not looking to provide consultancy or other work that should really go to a commercial organisation”.