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Guest blog: Douglas Ross MP

Left: Douglas Ross, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Scotland, NASA Valkyrie, and Professor Peter Mathieson, Principal and Vice-Chancellor , University of Edinburgh

Our guest blog comes from Douglas Ross, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Scotland , who explains the vital role data science plays in designing better products and services. 

The world is entering a new age of unprecedented data collection thanks to the widespread use of microchips, sensors and satellites.

Data science is about crunching this huge amount of new information and using it to solve problems and design better products and services.

Precision medicine is a great example. Using the growing body of health data and genetic information, such as the UK Biobank, we can improve the effectiveness of diagnosis and treatment – making all of us healthier and saving the NHS money.  One recent study at the Usher Institute cut the hospital stay of patients coming to A&E with chest pain by a third and improved diagnosis of heart attacks in women.

The UK Government is acting decisively to position the country as a leader in this new industry.  By investing now we will secure a strong future for our economy and ensure businesses and public services in the UK are the first to benefit from the latest breakthroughs.

This year will mark two years’ progress on the £1.3 billion Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal.  The deal is creating five new technology hubs, supported with £290 million from the UK Government, with a focus on data science and innovation.

One these, the Bayes Centre, is already host to a community of over four hundred internationally recognised scientists, PhD students, and leading industry experts working on applying data science to real world challenges.

Looking ahead to the COP 26 Climate Conference that the UK is hosting in Glasgow later this year, our data science sector has a vital role to play in making systems across the world more efficient and reducing energy usage. The UK will continue to lead on tackling climate change – last year it became the first major economy to pass new laws to reduce emissions to net zero by 2050.

The UK Government is working closely with the Scottish Government and regional partners to deliver City Region and Growth Deals for every part of Scotland.  Together we are transforming communities and create thousands of high-earning jobs.

When the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Deal was signed the aim was to make the region the data capital of Europe, but as we start a new decade I predict a much more global role awaits.

The UK Government is acting decisively to position the country as a leader in this new industry.