You are Home   »   News   »   View Article

Letting academia work on your data problems - Data Lab

Friday, February 12, 2016

Data Lab is a Scottish government funded body which will help connect academic data experts with industry's data problems.

The Scottish Funding Council, a Scottish body which promotes higher education, has set up 'The Data Lab', an organisation to connect academic data scientists with the oil and gas and financial industries, solving industry problems.

Data Lab is based and administered from the University of Edinburgh, but it has an office in Aberdeen, based at Robert Gordon University (RGU). It works together with Scottish Enterprise.

There is a similar organisation serving healthcare, called the Digital Health Institute, also funded by the Scottish Funding Council.

Data Lab welcomes data challenges from both the 'private and public sector,' he said Duncan Hart, business development executive with the Data Lab, based in Aberdeen.

'We try to take a problem and go out to universities and say how can you, with academic partners, come up with an innovative solution that will make a difference,' he said. 'We're using the power of the academic minds to create models and create algorithms.'

As an example, Data Lab connected oil major REPSOL with a team at the University of Glasgow.

'We can be involved in medium scale and large scale collaborative projects,' he said. 'The funding is dependent on the project.'

The projects are usually short term, not four or five years, which is typical for academic research projects. 'We're looking at real world results that can deliver real world value,' he said.

A further aim is to develop data science capability in Scotland, and also develop technology which Scotland can export, he said.

'Open innovation' is a key philosophy behind Data Lab. 'No company can afford to develop things on their own anymore, it's an impossibility,' he said.

'Oil and gas companies want to maximise uptime and minimise downtime. If data analytics can help improve production by 6-12 per cent, there's a lot of people who will be very happy.'

'If you can take 1 per cent, 2 per cent off your production cost, that's a significant saving. If you can take two weeks out of your shutdown because of a decision that is around data analytics, that is a lot of saving.'

Data science can also make it easier for people to access the right data, and data which is verified as correct.


Data Lab can also help work out the value of a data project. 'We can help you scope the idea, work out the end result. That's better than trying to rush headlong into a data science project,' he said.

Data projects can go wrong if you ask the wrong questions, select the wrong users, or have disagreements, he said. They can also go wrong if you have data silos, like engineering departments not talking to reservoir staff.

'There can be management resistance. Do management understand what they are trying to do? If nothing happens at the top that affects the bottom.'

'There's a lot of academics who live and breathe this.

Associated Companies
» The Data Lab
comments powered by Disqus


To attend our free events, receive our newsletter, and receive the free colour Digital Energy Journal.


Malaysia at the forefront of Data Economy: An overview of the National Big Data Analytics Initiative
Somasundaram Nagappan
from Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation


Latest Edition Sept-Oct 18
Sep 2018

Download latest and back issues


Learn more about supporting Digital Energy Journal