The Data Lab, one of the eight innovation centres funded by the Scottish Funding Council, is helping employers harness the power of data and artificial intelligence (AI) through its student data work placements.
Every year, across 11 universities in Scotland, up to 155 students undertaking an MSc in a data science related field can take part in the placement. Since launching in 2015, 416 students have been sponsored by The Data Lab, with 133 having completed placements at more than 76 organisations, spanning private, public and third sectors.
Employers will benefit from a better understanding of how crucial data can be in influencing company decision making. The programme offers students direct routes into work while encouraging them to stay in Scotland.
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This year six companies are taking part at Innovation Week, a three-day residential trip which allows organisations to challenge data experts to design data-driven solutions to challenges facing them. Students and challenge owners will work together to apply data science to real business challenges.
This year’s challenges include:
- How might we accelerate energy transition in Europe’s power market?
- How to address litter prevention in a popular tourist destination
- How can we reduce the stress on our water systems?
- How can we encourage students to take part in active travel?
Gillian Docherty, CEO at The Data Lab, said: “Innovation week has become larger every year and it’s fantastic to see so many organisations getting involved. It’s extremely important we’re able to facilitate knowledge transfer between those with skills in data, and industry.
“Innovation Week gives businesses the opportunity to understand how to begin looking at data as a tool to help solve challenges and gain more insight into their organisations. We’ve already seen some of the ideas coming out of the workshops from previous years being worked into long-term business strategies.
“From the students’ perspective, the MSc placement and Innovation Week act as direct links into employment, and the activities organised throughout the year teach them how to apply academic theory into a real business environment.
“Many of those who have undertaken the three-month placement, have since been employed full-time by the organisation they were placed in – demonstrating the real value employers see in having a data expert within their organisations.”
Having secured funding at least until 2020, The Data Lab placements will continue, with the organisation planning to embed at least 100 students per year. The company also hopes to strengthen current relationships with organisational partners and continue forging links with new ones.