The Bayes Data Science Unit (BDSU), which is part of the Data Driven Innovation (DDI) initiative, launched this year to improve engagement between the university and companies of all sizes across Edinburgh, the wider region and beyond.
The new unit brings together data scientists and companies to scope out and solve problems, facilitate research collaborations with industry and help enterprises lead on opportunities.
The BDSU will also ensure that the university’s data skills and expertise are spread across all academic disciplines, including those not normally associated with data science, to help drive innovation in industry.
Dr Jasmina Lazic, chief data technologist at the Bayes Centre, said: "It was, at one point, difficult and time consuming to get the right academics involved in data projects with companies.
“However this new rapid response unit means that we can roll out projects faster.
"The aim is to bridge the gap between business and the high end research that our academics are working on.
"The unit engages the brightest minds the University of Edinburgh has to offer to help companies innovate using data.
"It is a one-stop-shop for our partners who are looking to engage with data driven innovation and artificial intelligence.”
Michael Rovatsos, professor of Artificial Intelligence and director of the Bayes Centre said the BDSU offered companies and organisations access to a testbed that would allow them to test before investing.
“The University has an enormous amount of expertise it can mobilise to help external organisations address their challenges through the use of data, he said.
“With the Bayes Data Science Unit, we’re creating a much-needed opportunity for our partners to ‘test before you invest’ - by providing an agile team that can work for them to scope technical solutions, and connect them to experts across the institution to develop larger collaboration projects.”
The Bayes Data Science Unit works with a broad spectrum of companies from large corporates to start-ups and builds on the university's long tradition of collaboration and success in creating spin-out companies.
Jasmina said: "We collaborate with a broad scope of clients from large corporations to start-ups.
"We help start-ups get on board with our accelerators and work with them to create a data vision for their businesses.
"We have also worked with large corporations such as RBS and Samsung where we have set up joint research projects together."
The new Bayes Data Science Unit has collaboration at its core both across disciplines within the university and between academic institutions in the UK and beyond.
Business Development Executive at Edinburgh Innovations, Craig Sheridan , said: "The unit realises the full potential of the data science assets that the university has to offer and brings all the different channels together.
"It works across disciplines at the university and incorporates all hubs that make up the DDI initiative.
"We also have established partnerships with universities that we will look to partner companies with and work on high impact research projects.”
Jasmina points to the collaboration between BDSU and trip-planning app Whereverly, funded under the DDI Beacon project, as an example of industry collaboration which can also help a challenged sector of the economy recover from Covid.
This collaboration is part of the Traveltech Scotland initiative which is part of a DDI cluster aimed at supporting travel and tourism in Scotland.
Whereverly helps tourists discover attractions and businesses that can often be overlooked through its app by helping them plan a route for their trip.
The data-driven application pulls together a variety of different sources and also gives insights into tourist behaviour to help decision makers in the sector understand what makes visitors visit places when they do.
Jasmina said: "Whereverly looks to engage and excite people when they explore parts of Scotland and has had a lot of interest from local authorities and government organisations.
"It has huge potential benefits for local tourism and for the users themselves who will visit places they would not otherwise visit.
"The app helps people in the hospitality industry to understand what they can do to help drive more people to their locations and what inspires them to visit.
"We are helping Whereverly integrate data from a number of different sources into their app and are working with them to ensure that they can gain the right insights from data generated from the app."
To find out more about the new Bayes Data Science Unit email Craig Sheridan ([email protected] ) .