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5 June 2024

Guiding Students: The Data Lab’s Innovation Week


Data science fuels progress for everyone. It helps us make the most of valuable information, to make better choices, create better solutions, and tackle the complex challenges that impact our everyday lives.

The Data Lab is leading the charge for the next generation of data innovators. Constantly putting on events and workshops to develop their skills and build on their education, they empower future data scientists through a variety of initiatives. Their recent Innovation Week in Stirling is a prime example, bringing together students, industry partners, and data experts to tackle real-world challenges.

In this three-day challenge, students went beyond the theoretical and applied data science to tackle real-world challenges set by industry partners. Paired with industry professionals to guide them, a member of our herd Senior Data Consultant Ignacio Valdelvira was proud to mentor several groups.

Tackling Real-Life Issues

The challenges at Innovation Week were far from hypothetical exercises. Students grappled with pressing social issues such as:

  • Financial Planning: Set by Aegon UK, this challenge asked the question of how can data science help people overcome recency bias and prioritise long-term financial planning.
  • Homelessness Prevention: Can data science identify individuals and communities at risk of homelessness, paving the way for targeted support and preventative measures? This challenge was set by The City of Edinburgh Council.


By confronting these real-world problems, students were honing their problem-solving, thinking critically and crafting innovative solutions driven by data insights.

The hackathon format challenged students to develop vital communication skills. With only three days to present a solution to one of the challenges, they needed to stay focused as they would present their findings to a panel of judges. With representatives from The Data Lab, Lloyds Banking Group, Aize, Edinburgh Futures Institute, Aegon UK, The City of Edinburgh Council, Hippo, the Scottish Government, and Smart Data Foundry. 

Guiding Future Data Innovators

Like all the mentors, Ignacio played a role in guiding students through the challenges they faced. With his experience in data science, he provided insight and advice, helping students refine their ideas. 

Ignacio’s mentorship wasn’t just about technical guidance – it was about empowering students with the skills they need to succeed in data science. Ignacio ensured that they were always thinking critically and always thinking about the problem at hand. 

They presented their progress and I questioned their reasoning, challenging their approach and helping them with ideas. Steering them to focus on the problem that they were trying to solve.

– Ignacio Valdelvira

Coding the Future 

Innovation Week provided a great experience for students. They gained real-world exposure, collaborating with industry professionals on pressing social challenges and developing essential data analysis skills. It served as a powerful example of how events can bridge the gap between education and the professional world, giving budding data scientists the confidence and experience to make a true impact on the world – improving people’s lives for the better.