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MSc Innovation week - desk with post it notes and laptop

Learning how to apply data science and AI skills to real life business problems

We fought hard to make sure our MSc students didn’t miss out on their Innovation Week this year – so we rose to the challenge and achieved something unique by delivering it entirely online. 

The MSc students from 12 universities across Scotland formed virtual teams, applying data science and AI skills to solve a real-life problem currently being faced by businesses, whilst exploring design thinking.

Using a combination of Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Mural, teams worked through a blend of design thinking workshops, webinars and coaching sessions, to develop their ideas and solutions, before presenting them to their fellow students and the judging panel.

Co-founder of Design Thinkers Academy London, David Kester, commented:

They say necessity is the mother of invention. Covid-19 could have put the stop to Innovation Week for all 150 data science postgrads at a critical time in their careers.

Instead, in just six weeks, 20 designers joined up with the data science community and broke new ground. Together we delivered an intensive Design Sprint, hacking data solutions on the circular economy. It has been an extreme and rewarding learning journey for us all.


Judging was very difficult because the quality of submissions was outstanding

Students came up with a variety of innovative concepts covering a range of topics including reuse of household waste, B2B waste swapping and reuse, battery reusage and working with businesses to help and support communities through recycling initiatives. We found the breadth and depth of ideas to be incredible, showing truly innovative thinking.

Gillian Docherty, CEO at The Data Lab, said:

This year, as a result of the global Covid-19 pandemic, we were left with just a matter of weeks to adopt an online format for Innovation Week to ensure our MSc students didn’t miss out on this milestone which signifies the end of their studies.

This is the first time we’ve arranged and hosted an event of this scale entirely online. We were delighted to see so many dedicated students continue to invest in their education throughout this pandemic – it was encouraging to see how engaged everyone was, they made it extremely tough to select a winning team, with a variety of outstanding solutions presented to the panel. However, Clockwork Orange’s initiative just had that stand out edge.

Innovation Week is vital to allow master’s students to begin building their data network, who they will collaborate with for years to come. In previous years, we’ve even seen participants who met during Innovation Week go on to work together in the same company – or even set up their own business.

The winning submission combined education with facilitating a circular economy

Clockwork Orange, a team of six students from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, were crowned winners with their initiative ‘Share My Resources’, an innovative solution for a circular web-based community which promotes education as well as the sharing and re-use of resources/waste.

Alison McRae, Senior Director, Glasgow Chamber of Commerce said:

As we look past the pandemic and start to rebuild our city’s economy, it is vital that the circular economy is part of these plans.

Collaboration will be key to achieving tangible solutions and the Clockwork Orange ‘Share My Resources’ community reflected the importance of working in partnership while adopting commercially viable business strategies.


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