Fife businesses set to benefit from pioneering Data-Driven Innovation programme

Fife businesses have started on a journey that will enable them to reap the vast benefits of the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal Data-Driven Innovation (DDI) programme that is set to boost economic growth. Business leaders and managers from across Fife recently attended an industry event on how best to drive improvement through data on 26 February, at the Double Tree by Hilton Hotel, Inverkeithing.

Delegates were given new insights into how data can expand the contribution of research to the region’s economy, and increase entrepreneurial activity. Fife businesses were also shown how companies are already using data technologies to enhance commercial performance and the profound impact  data innovation is making across diverse sectors.

Jarmo Eskelinen, Director of the Data-Driven Innovation (DDI) initiative, shared his experience of working with businesses, universities and city leaders in the UK and Finland to drive improvement and tackle their growth challenges with data.

The 15- year £661m Data-Driven Innovation programme is a key part of the City Region Deal, and is designed to reach out to the whole City Region, so that businesses, public sector bodies and other organisations can use data to improve productivity and develop new products and services.

The University of Edinburgh is collaborating with Heriot-Watt University to create five DDI ‘hubs’ targeting 10 industry sectors across the public, private and third sectors – from creative industries and healthcare to fintech and robotics. The ambitious programme is designed transform the city region into the Data Capital of Europe through better data skills. It aims to train 100,000 people in data skills over the next decade, from computer science specialists to traditional jobs that will increasingly use data.

Gordon Mole, Head of Service- Business and Employability, Fife Council, said: “We are starting to explore the potential for Data Driven Innovation to improve our region’s economy by creating more and better jobs, improving services, while helping some companies to start-up and others to grow.

“This ground-breaking City Region Deal Data-Driven Innovation initiative is enabling a diverse range of organisations to develop and test new services to meet the needs of our communities.

“A number of businesses looked into how  data can ensure continuous improvement in your business, and drive economic growth, social change and public services.”

Jarmo Eskelinen, Director of the Data-Driven Innovation (DDI) initiative, said: “The DDI Programme is committed to supporting local businesses as they experiment and embed data driven innovation into their business processes. This pilot project will allow Fife Council and the University of Edinburgh to support the input of cutting-edge research and expertise into Fife-based businesses, through a new integrated approach to innovation funding support. There is already interest from other City Region local authority partners to trial the approach if this pilot is successful.”

Through this, and other events, the City Region Deal will ensure that organisations from across the region fully benefit from the fast-developing field of Data-Driven Innovation and drive innovation through big data and artificial intelligence.

It is estimated that Scotland needs around 13,000 extra workers each year with data skills as the workplace transforms. Together, the two universities will increase the provision of data science teaching for their students, and support schools and colleges across the region to provide digital skills teaching and training. The region’s supercomputing capabilities will also be strengthened with investment in a data analysis facility, which will help 1,000 organisations use data to innovate.

Companies attending the event included CoorsTek Ltd, Diageo, FLEXCon, Subsea International Ltd, Scott Group, Interface and Scottish Manufacturing Advisory Service (SMAS).

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