Scottish innovation centre for data and AI appoints interim CEO

03/04/2024
Heather Thomson, new Interim CEO at The Data Lab

THE Data Lab has today announced that its CEO, Brian Hills, has stepped down from his role. Following The Data Lab’s successful application to the Scottish Funding Council to be funded as part of a new 10-year Innovation Infrastructure programme, Hills is taking a new opportunity in the private sector. 

In his place, Scotland’s innovation centre for data and AI has appointed Heather Thomson as Interim CEO. She will take up the position with immediate effect.

Les Bayne, Chair of The Data Lab, said: “Brian has been integral in the evolution and growth of The Data Lab over the last nine years. Since joining the centre in 2015 and taking up the CEO role in 2021, he has played a major part in the creation of a wealth of successful programmes. As a result, these programmes have generated £200m in additional revenue for Scotland’s data and AI sector, as well as forming and safeguarding more and 1,350 jobs in the sector. We would like to extend our thanks to Brian for his leadership and contribution to The Data Lab and wish him all the best for the future.” 

  

Since joining The Data Lab in 2018, Heather has led the £8m data and AI skills programme, helping to create a highly skilled workforce and a closely connected business, academic and public sector community whilst addressing the challenges and opportunities derived in a changing world of work. She was appointed to The Data Lab’s senior leadership team in 2021 as Director of Skills and Education playing a fundamental role in developing strategy, delivery and culture across the wider organisation. Heather will now lead the transition from existing funding to new Innovation Infrastructure funding.

Les Bayne added: “Heather’s appointment marks a significant milestone in the future of The Data Lab, as we celebrate 10 years since the centre’s inception. Heather starts this role as the next funding chapter kicks off and the opportunity for data and AI continues to grow, presenting a huge opportunity for Scotland which The Data Lab will be at the heart of.”

The Data Lab will appoint a permanent CEO in 2025 following the launch of the new Innovation Infrastructure programme.  

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