Associate feature: We need to plug the data skills gap

Written by Dr George Baxter on 5 November 2018 in Comment

Dr George Baxter, Chief Executive Officer of Edinburgh Innovations, on the University of Edinburgh's role in driving the data revolution

Image credit: Marlowe Photographic

From the Hepatitis B vaccine to microchips used in millions of smartphones, the flow of impactful science and technology from the University of Edinburgh is continuous and compelling.

As the University’s commercialisation service, Edinburgh Innovations has a direct hand in bringing together real-world challenges and leading researchers to drive societal and economic impact.

Take Invizius, a recent spinout company whose technology could change the lives of millions of patients on kidney dialysis. Invizius has developed H-Guard, a biological "invisibility cloak" that hides the dialysis equipment from the body’s immune system, reducing life-shortening side-effects of the thrice-weekly dialysis procedure.

From sourcing public funding to develop the business, to launching the company and then securing seed investment, EI has supported the Invizius team at every step of their journey, and will continue to do so.

Arguably the most exciting field of innovation today is data science. Data has been called the new oil, and the way we use it will shape the ‘fourth industrial revolution’ said to be under way.

The University of Edinburgh is poised to be a major driver of this revolution. Through our leadership of the Data-Driven Innovation programme of the Edinburgh and South-East Scotland City Region Deal, we and our partners aim to create the data capital of Europe.

This is an enormous opportunity, at the heart of which is inclusive growth for our local economy.

Part of the task is to deliver the skills needed to fulfil the region’s potential. Both Holyrood’s Digital Strategy for Scotland and Westminster’s Science and Innovation Audit have identified the work needed to transform the promise of the city region into the reality of skills and jobs.

The Data-Driven Innovation programme commits to deliver 100,000 qualifications in data-science-related subjects over 15 years, and to work with 10 sectors, from space to agritech.

Our work at Edinburgh Innovations will be essential to meeting these targets: we will drive the expansion of the University’s partnerships with commercial and public sector organisations, the delivery of executive education programmes, and an increase in company formation.

Dr George Baxter is Chief Executive Officer of Edinburgh Innovations.

This piece was sponsored by Edinburgh Innovations

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