The Data Lab Launches UK’s First Data Festival – DataFest17

The Data Lab is bringing the UK’s first ever week-long data science festival to Scotland in partnership with Sainsbury’s Bank. The inaugural DataFest17 will be a celebration of innovation and will showcase Scotland’s leading data science capabilities, attracting international experts in data science to Scotland.

Gillian Docherty, CEO of The Data Lab, said: “We are at the beginning of the data revolution: data innovation is disrupting all areas of our lives from business to public services and beyond.  The theme for the festival is #DataChangesEverything and the programme will explore current and future innovation.

“Scotland is a world-leader in data science and, in launching DataFest17, we will promote and grow our position on the international stage. The potential benefit of data to Scotland is colossal and by awakening business and the public to the possibilities of data, we can create significant social and economic impact.”

World renowned data experts, including Dr Hannah Fry, UCL and presenter of BBC TV’s The Joy of Data, and Marc Priestley, former McLaren F1 pit stop crew and expert in British racing technology, will lead the DataFest17 line up. The festival programme will have five elements:

1.Data Summit

  • Dr Hannah Fry, UCL and presenter of BBC TV’s The Joy of Data
  • Marc Priestly, former McLaren F1 pit stop crew and expert in British racing technology
  • Tim Harford, The Undercover Economist, More or Less
  • Alex Bellos, science and maths writer

2.Data Talent Scotland

A one day event bringing together over 500 attendees linking data talent from 15 Scottish universities with industry and public sector organisations

3.Executive Dinner

A dinner for senior leaders considering expanding, or creating, a business presence within Scotland

4.Fringe events

Events around Scotland exploring/hacking/debating data innovation.  Events will include meetups, hackathons, debates and public engagement


A programme of training events from practical data science to leadership

Marc Priestly, former McLaren F1 pit stop crew and expert in British racing technology, will be addressing a group of Chief Technology Officers in Edinburgh this evening. He’ll relay his experiences working with drivers including Mika Häkkinen, David Coulthard, and Lewis Hamilton and said: “In Formula One, getting split-second decisions right under pressure can be the difference between success and failure.

“Instinct and experience can get you so far, but finding the crucial marginal advantages over the opposition may not always be obvious to the ‘naked eye’. In F1, data analysis uncovers the opportunities that help teams win races. It is the difference between winning and losing. Data has the ability to change everything, to inform critical decisions and impact lives. It’s really exciting and important that we help realise the true potential of data and I’m pleased to be supporting DataFest17 and can’t wait to see what it brings.”

Mark Hunter, Chief Data Officer at Sainsbury’s Bank, said: “At Sainsbury’s Bank, data is vitally important as it’s the way we understand our customers, therefore having talented data people is crucial to our business. As lead sponsor of DataFest17, we’re helping to bring together the growing data community in Scotland with an exciting opportunity to learn from international speakers.”

For more information, please visit the DataFest17 website:

For information on Sponsorship opportunities, please download our sponsorship guide.

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