Scotland’s first datathon attracts top fintech names

Kent Mackenzie
Kent Mackenzie

Deloitte is to host Scotland’s first-ever Datathon over two days this month as part of the DataFest17 festival.

The Datathon, which lasts from mid-day on March 20 until the same time on March 21, will bring together Scotland’s top data scientists and fintech entrepreneurs at Deloitte’s new Greenhouse facility in Edinburgh.

Participants will compete to solve challenges in a high-octane environment, testing their ability to analyse data, visualise and present their findings, and develop a product proposition.

Modelled on hackathons, datathons are intense 24-hour workshops in which researchers turn information into knowledge. Rather than designing apps for mobile devices, competitors query datasets to extract information related to a specific question or topic.

Speakers at the event include Gavin Littlejohn, founder of Money Dashboard; Steve Tigar, CEO at Money Dashboard; Ed Molyneux, founder and CEO of FreeAgent and James Varga, CEO of The ID co.

Each will talk about how they are using data in their businesses and what Open Banking will mean for the future of financial services.

There will be various prizes on offer from Deloitte’s technology and industry partners for the winners, as well as mentoring from the firm. Competitors will be judged based on the maturity and uniqueness of their insight, the quality of their visualisations, and the feasibility of what a potential service or product offering could look like.

Kent Mackenzie, panellist at the datathon and Director at Deloitte, said: “Data is playing an increasingly important role in businesses across every sector – not just in technology, fintech, telecommunications, or fundamental science.

“We have some of the world’s top data scientists in Scotland and a buoyant ecosystem of established companies and start-ups – a resource that could be better used if more organisations understood what data can unlock.

“Scotland’s first datathon could not come at a more apt time: there are a huge number of businesses which could benefit from turning the latent potential of their data into something transformative. This event could help them take the first step forward.”

The datathon is a fringe event at DataFest17, the festival of data innovation. The week-long festival takes place across Scotland on 20-24 March 2017, with support from the Data Lab, Scottish Enterprise, and Sainsbury’s Bank.

Brian Hills, head of data at The Data Lab, added: “We all benefit from data every single day. Better data allows services to be more efficient, transparent and personalised. The potential benefit of data to Scotland is vast, and by awakening businesses and the public to the possibilities of data, through activities such as the datathon, we can create significant social and economic impact for Scotland.”