Data Science Accelerator

The Data Science Accelerator is a fantastic development opportunity for analysts working in the public sector who want to develop their data science skills while also achieving a real business outcome for their organisation. This programme is delivered in partnership with The Data Lab.

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The Data Science Accelerator is a data skills development opportunity designed for analytical staff working in the public sector. The programme helps build technical skills and confidence, as well as giving you experience of exploring a data challenge for your organisation.

During the 12 week programme, you’ll focus on a real-life data issue that you’ve identified but perhaps don’t have the time or technical skills to take forward. Not that you’re expected to deliver a complete solution during this time! It’s more about discovery with the support of a technical mentor. It’s a great way to better understand your business issue, working in an Agile way. 

To apply you’ll need to provide a brief outline of your idea and the data needed. We also want to hear what tools and methods you might use. These will be refined with your mentor.

If your application is successful and you’re accepted onto the programme, you’ll work on your project 1 day a week for 12 weeks with the support of your mentor. This is protected development time, agreed with your line manager.

You can apply as an individual, or make a joint application with one other person. Previous participants have told us that being part of a team on the accelerator means their project progresses more quickly. The commitment to release a second applicant will need to be agreed with their manager.

During the accelerator you’ll dive into your business challenge with your mentor, try different approaches and possibly even develop a prototype solution.  Prototypes developed in accelerator can be the first step towards developing a product for your organisation.


Data must be the central consideration of your project and we ask you about data you plan to use in the application form.  Please look critically at your proposal in respect of the data you can access and share safely. Previous projects have had great results using small datasets, pre-published data and open data. We’ll only consider projects where data is available and ready to use. You must have permission to use and access the data before the start of the programme.

If your project proposes to process information which is personal or personal sensitive, as defined under data protection legislation, you’ll need to have the permission of the Data Controller to process that data.  You’ll also need to have a Data Protection Impact Assessment or Privacy Impact Assessment in place by the start of the accelerator.

Who can apply?

Participation is open to staff employed directly by a producer of Official Statistics.  You will be in a role that needs a high degree of analytical skills or are employed in one of the analytical professions.  This includes analysts, statisticians, economists, operational researchers and social researchers, anyone working as a data scientist, in digital analytics, data or information management, working as an archivist or in the geospatial profession.

We’re open to considering applications from other public bodies where there is capacity to support projects.  We may also consider applications where a public body partners with analytical teams in an Official Statistics producer body.

What software will I have access to?

You’ll be offered access to an analytical workbench which provides a secure environment with permission controlled virtual machines.  Here you can work with all types of data in a world-class data centre with high performance computing power.  Your mentor will also have access to the workbench so you can work together.

The analytical workbench has a wide range of data science tools including: Anaconda, Conda, Emacs, Git, Jupyter Core, Jupyter Notebook, PostGIS, PostgreSQL, Python, QGIS, R and RStudio and you can download other software should you need it.

How to apply

After you register (see top of page), you’ll receive an email with a link to the application form to your registered email address.

Fees and funding

The Data Science Accelerator programme is funded by Scottish Government, Public Health Scotland, National Records of Scotland and Registers of Scotland.  There is no charge for taking part in the accelerator.

Additional information

Key Dates

  • Applications close – 19 April 2024
  • Notification of outcome – 26 June 2024
  • Onboarding meeting – 3 September 2024 (1 hour – online)
  • Launch event at Victoria Quay, Leith, Edinburgh – 4 September 2024 (in person)
  • Weekly mentor meetings (1 hour – online or in person)
  • Weekly cohort meetings with all participants (50 minutes – online)
  • Mid programme review with all participants – 17 October 2024 (1 hour – online)
  • Closing event at Victoria Quay, Leith, Edinburgh – 4 December 2024 (in person)
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