Big Data – the future prospects for a south west sector

16th December, 2014
South West conference pulls in big data speakers

The future prospects for the big data sector and developing the right skills here in the South West will be discussed at an interactive conference to be held at the Exeter Met Office in January.

‘Unlocking Big Data – Investing in Human Capital’ features the Guardian’s Technology Editor, Charles Arthur and Dr Kim Nilsson, the Swedish astrophysicist and Hubble astronomer who now supports academics looking to develop careers in data science in the private sector.

Alex Nicholson, CIO of Plymouth big data company Intelligent Optimisations, the Met Office’s Charles Ewen, CIO and Director of Information Technology will discuss building effective teams and business collaboration with research and development.

Chris Garcia CEO of HotSW LEP will examine the funding potential of the European Structural and Investment Fund Strategy (ESIF) and the potential for growth in the far south west.

Organised by the Exeter and Heart of Devon Employment and Skills Board, the event will be completely interactive, with all delegates taking part in focussed discussions inspired by the speakers. The results of these discussions will be analysed and fed back to attendees as part of the ongoing debates throughout the day.

Mark Shepherd, Chair of Exeter and the Heart of Devon ESB said: “With the arrival of the Met Office’s supercomputer, the south west and Exeter in particular can become a global leader in this fast growing sector.

“However, the skills required of big data scientists are complex, which means there is already a shortfall in suitable candidates and recruitment is a big issue for many companies.

“This is an important event, bringing together delegates from across the far south west to discuss how we can provide the right environment to develop and attract the skilled practitioners that will bring these companies to the area.”

Big Data analysis is used to analyse vast amounts of information with great accuracy and at great speeds known as the 3Vs - volume, velocity and variety. The sector is growing rapidly across the globe where its uses range from astrophysics and science to government and business development through to online marketing

Organisations like Ebay and Amazon are well known, but big data processing is now within the reach of less well-resourced organizations. Fraud detection, climate science and even health care are just some examples of sectors that are reliant on the information that big data analytics can uncover.

Chris Garcia, Chief Executive of the Heart of the South West LEP said: “The Heart of the South West area has the potential to become globally recognised as a leading cluster area for big data companies.

“We have world leading companies including the Met Office and outstanding universities who are already working closely with business to develop data scientists able to operate in a commercial environment.

“However we need to do more so that we are able to build the right environment to take advantage of the opportunities big data has to offer.”

Aimed at Big Data practitioners, businesses, learning and training providers as well as aspiring and practicing data scientists, the event will include opportunities to meet the Heart of the South West’s Big Data community in one of the world’s leading Big Data organisations.

Funded by the Skills Funding Agency, the conference is being supported by the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership, Somerset Skills and Learning and the Met Office.

Unlocking Big Data – Investing in Human Capital will take place at the Met Office, Exeter on 28th January. Places are limited and as demand is likely to be high, early booking is recommended.

Tickets are available on a first come first served basis from: