The UK’s biggest data and artificial intelligence festival set to return on 25 March

Gillian Docherty, CEO of The Data Lab

THE Data Lab, Scotland’s innovation centre for data and AI, has today announced that DataFest21, the UK’s biggest data and artificial intelligence festival, will launch on Thursday 25 March, with a free event featuring talks from industry-leading keynote speakers Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter and Dr Leyla Acaroglu.

Now in its fifth year, DataFest21 will explore the theme ‘#OurData’, underlining how important our data is to the growth of the economy, social progress and knowledge base, whilst encouraging debate on ethics and deepening understanding of data ownership.

Hosted by Maggie Philbin, broadcaster and CEO of TeenTech – an award-winning charity which helps young people navigate the opportunities in STEM industries – the launch event will feature talks from Dr Leyla Acaroglu; an award-winning designer, sociologist, and sustainability expert who is internationally recognised as a leading force in the movement for a sustainable and circular future, alongside Sir David Spiegelhalter; Winton Professor for the Public Understanding of Risk, and Professor of Biostatistics at the University of Cambridge, who was awarded a Knighthood for his services to statistics in 2014. More speakers will be announced for future DataFest21 events in the coming months.

To mark this year’s series of virtual events running from March to November, the theme #OurData will also encompass discussions and events on #OurPlanet, covering environment and climate change; #OurPeople, reviewing social elements such as health and wellbeing; and #OurFuture, uncovering the companies and technologies that will shape the decades to come.

Each key topic will be highlighted in a series of discussions and events spanning three weeks, and will be spread out throughout the year, bringing together a variety of different, thought-provoking talks, talent, and tech.

Rounding off this year’s festival will be DataSummit, which is expected to take place as a hybrid event – combining virtual and physical activities – in November, bringing together industry professionals to discuss and digest inspirational and innovative examples of using data for good.

Gillian Docherty, CEO of The Data Lab, said: “Like many others, we have taken our events online this year and we have been working tirelessly over the last twelve months to make sure they’re as fascinating and engaging as our previous festivals.

“We are thrilled to have Maggie Philbin kick off this year’s launch event, and the likes of Dr Leyla Acaroglu and Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter joining us as keynote speakers. We’re really looking forward to hearing their inspirational stories and insights into what the future holds with this year’s theme, #OurData.

“To celebrate the very best of Scottish innovation we have adapted our usual formats, with DataTalent and DataTech tweaked to cater to an online audience, and we are also hopeful that our annual Data Summit can take place later in the year, giving us the chance to connect with peers in person as well as virtually.”

Maggie Philbin, said: ”Now more than ever, DataFest is a crucial platform to showcase Scotland as the global leader in data innovation. Year on year, DataFest provides a fundamental programme of events allowing for discussions to take place with likeminded individuals from industry, academia, and the public sector – bringing them together to share their knowledge and prepare for the future ahead. 

“DataFest has been a highlight in my calendar for the last few years and I am thrilled to be back and be able to kickstart this year’s discussion with such great speakers and The Data Lab team, focusing on the impact of #OurData. Together we can use data to inspire and encourage collaboration for the benefit of people, planet, and the future.”

“I learn so much from the terrific blend of speakers who bring deep knowledge from many different areas. The whole series of events will provide compelling insight into the most important questions of our time. And it’s all done in such an engaging, fun and inclusive way.”

For more information and to register for the upcoming launch event, visit:

The latest stories