Our Ambassadors

We have launched an Ambassador Programme designed to bolster Scotland’s data and AI community.

Our Ambassador Programme is designed to bring together some of the world’s brightest names in the data and AI community, and harness their support for Scotland.

One of our strongest assets is our ever-expanding global network and our
Ambassador Programme is an attempt to utilise that expansive network to its fullest potential.

Our Ambassadors will be tasked with a number of duties designed to boost Scotland’s data community in the years to come and will do what they can to promote The Data Lab. Through the programme, businesses will be given the opportunity to liaise directly with ambassadors to discover more information about the support that can be accessed via The Data Lab.

Find out more about our Ambassador Programme.

Meet our Ambassadors

Dr Jo Watts

Jo is the Founder and CEO of Effini, a data solutions company focused on supporting organisations of all sizes and sectors to become effective using data.

Jo is passionate about data literacy for all and has been developing training and learning materials to demystify data science and support the teaching of data science from school to executive level.

Jo has been actively involved with The Data Lab over a number of years most recently as a governance board member. As an ambassador she hopes to help widen the reach of The Data Lab even further.

Farouk Abdullah

Farouk Abdullah

Farouk is a digital and analytics business leader delivering organizational transformation in large companies in the UK, Europe and South East Asia. He is currently the pack leader of Natural Intelligence Solutions a data science consulting firm based in South East Asia.

Known as a radical thinker and a straight talker Farouk is obsessed with bringing real change to organizations that emphasizes on exponential growth. He has worked with organizations in multiple industries implementing enterprise wide digital transformation projects, advisory role to C-Suite and establishing effective data and analytics teams that deliver real change to the organization.

Farouk’s passion for digital, data and analytics has driven his belief that data and analytics must be used for the good of the society. He has spoken on numerous platforms globally to underline the importance of digital, data and analytics education for our next generation.

Chris Neumann

Chris Neumann

Chris Neumann is the Founder and CEO of Commonwealth Ventures, an organization devoted to narrowing the expertise gap between international startup ecosystems and the Silicon Valley.

As a serial entrepreneur and early startup employee, Chris helped raise more than USD $70M across 4 startups, which collectively have been sold for more than USD $300M. After his last startup, DataHero, was acquired in 2015, Chris joined 500 Startups as a Venture Partner, where he designed and launched an accelerator program focused on big data, machine learning and AI startups. Through that program, he led investments in startups in the US, Canada, the UK, Russia, Italy, Israel, Belarus and Nigeria. 

Chris is an active angel investor, board member, and advisor to startups in the US, Canada, Australia and the UK and an associate of the Creative Destruction Lab

Jackie Doyle

Jackie Doyle

Highly experienced senior manager / director with over 25 years’ experience in commercial and operational roles in the energy, technology, digital and telecommunications sectors. Areas of expertise include strategic planning, sales and marketing, project management and customer operations.

Jackie has been a founder, has worked in SMEs and in executive roles in corporate organisations. With experience across the public, private and third-sector, data and data driven innovation has underpinned many of the organisations he has worked in. Today Jackie is a Director with JLDMS providing consultancy services to companies and organisations in tech and energy sectors. 

Michael Young

Michael Young

As CEO of MBN Solutions, Michael leads the strategic direction of the unique recruitment and people solutions organisation he founded 12 years ago. A serial collaborator and community builder, Michael is the driving force behind events such as Scotchain, Scotland Data Science & Technology and Blockchain Scotland Meet-Up Group.

In addition to establishing MBN as one of the UK’s leading Data focussed Talent businesses, Michael has acted as advisor and confidante to a number of start-ups, charities and third-sector organisations and has provided support to many government agencies seeking to understand the increasingly complex landscape of Data Talent Acquisition. 

Laura Hepburn

Laura Hepburn

I am a Data Analyst currently working at the Scottish Funding Council where I provide analytical insight and statistical evidence to feed into a number of further and higher education policy areas. Having undertaken a BSc in Biology at the University of Stirling, I then went on to study an MSc in Data Science for Business as part of the Datalab MSc programme. I was placed at SFC to complete my summer consultancy project and have been working in the analytical unit there since.

I’m particularly interested in data visualisation and telling stories with data… there’s nothing more satisfying than conveying analysis effectively to someone who claims to be “not a numbers person”! 

The data community in Scotland is powerful, collaborative and exciting. However, I haven’t come across that many other young women in the industry so I’m very keen to set an example for others to look at and think “I could do that too… and I’m going to” because they can, and the industry needs them.

Dr Eyad Elyan

Eyad Elyan

Dr. Elyan obtained his PhD from the University of Bradford in 2008. He is currently a Reader (Associate Professor) in Machine Learning at the School of Computing Science and Digital Media at Robert Gordon University and he is leading the Machine Learning and Vision Applications research group. 

His research in the area of machine learning and machine vision is primarily focused on creating novel methods to represent and extract knowledge from unstructured and complex documents and images and structured data and applying it to solve industrial problems. He has attracted funds to support his research from different public funding bodies including Innovate UK, the Data Lab Innovation Centre, and Oil and Gas Innovation Centre (OGIC), Historic Environment Scotland and Others. Eyad is leading several projects with industrial partners across different domains including Oil and Gas, Construction, Sports Science, and Health.

Elyan is a Fellow member of the British Higher Education Academy. He served as a Program Committee member for several international conferences and as a reviewer for several international journals in the area of machine vision, machine learning and data analytics and he has published more than 50 articles in the area of Deep Convolutional Neural Networks, Generative Adversarial Neural Network and Ensemble Learning.

Prof Ruth Falconer

Ruth Falconer

Professor Ruth Falconer is a leading academic in the field of applied computer game technologies. She leads the Games Technology and Mathematics subject areas at Abertay University. Research interests include Systems Modelling and Data Science. With substantial academic contributions across games tech and other sectors, Prof Falconer is also known for research into the development of intuitive models of complex systems. She has published more than 55 peer reviewed articles, is an expert reviewer for European Commission and RCUK proposals, and has secured income for her research topics in excess of £1.5m.

An ambassador for female participation in the games industry, Prof Falconer was recently appointed an executive board member for Women in Games and named one of the 100 most influential women in the industry, based on work to support diversity in the educational pipeline. She is an Nvidia Deep Learning Institute (DLI) Certified Instructor and NVIDIA DLI University Ambassador. 

Ian Watt

Ian Watt

I am an Open Data advocate and occasional data scientist / data wrangler.

I have a background in Local Government where I put together digital and data teams, managed large digital projects, and led both the funding of, and the authority’s participation in EU-scale programmes. I was the project lead for open data for a programme involving all of Scotland’s seven cities. After leaving the public sector I completed an MSc in Data Science at RGU, sponsored by The Data Lab.

I currently lead for Civic Society on Commitment 3 (access to Info and Data) of for the Open Government Partnership plans for Scotland. I combine roles as charity trustee, having co-founded Code The City to tackle social issues using tech and data. I am also exec- and non-exec director to three companies / organisations. I created and co-hosted the first Scottish Open Data Unconference in Sept 2020, and have started to work with others to build the Open Data Scotland community.
In my spare time I am a trainer for Wiki Media UK and have a keen interest in the use of WikiData as a public repository for linked open data.