The Data Lab announces leadership change

Heather Thomson

The Data Lab has announced that its CEO Brian Hills has stepped down from his role.

“Following The Data Lab’s successful application to the Scottish Funding Council to be funded as part of a new 10-year Innovation Infrastructure programme, Hills is taking a new opportunity in the private sector,” said The Data Lab.

“In his place, Scotland’s innovation centre for data and AI has appointed Heather Thomson as interim CEO.

“She will take up the position with immediate effect.”

The Data Lab, based in Edinburgh,  supports and incubates responsible innovation in data and AI across the public, private and academic sectors in Scotland.

Since joining The Data Lab in 2018, Thomson has led its £8 million data and AI skills programme.

She was appointed to The Data Lab’s senior leadership team in 2021 as Director of Skills and Education.

The Data Lab will appoint a permanent CEO in 2025 following the launch of the new Innovation Infrastructure programme.

The Data Lab chair Les Bayne said:“Brian has been integral in the evolution and growth of The Data Lab over the last nine years.

“Since joining the centre in 2015 and taking up the CEO role in 2021, he has played a major part in the creation of a wealth of successful programmes.

“As a result, these programmes have generated £200m in additional revenue for Scotland’s data and AI sector, as well as forming and safeguarding more and 1,350 jobs in the sector.

“We would like to extend our thanks to Brian for his leadership and contribution to The Data Lab and wish him all the best for the future …

“Heather’s appointment marks a significant milestone in the future of The Data Lab, as we celebrate 10 years since the centre’s inception.

“Heather starts this role as the next funding chapter kicks off and the opportunity for data and AI continues to grow, presenting a huge opportunity for Scotland which The Data Lab will be at the heart of.”