Fixing the Economy through Data Science

Data Science, Ethics, Policy & Privacy
Location: Palace Suite - Blenheim Room Level: Non-technical
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This session will look at new ways in which data science can tell us what’s happening to the economy, and how governments, investors, and journalists are making use of them.

Knowing about the state of the economy is big business: from Bloomberg to Experian to the Office for National Statistics, the world is full of large organisations whose role is to work out what is really going on in the economy. Government too crave this information as they struggle to help their economies recover.

But the economic data that exists is often surprisingly primitive. It relies on surveys, years-old business records, or decades-old categorisations. To take one example, economists still measure the whale-oil producing sector, but not the video games sector.

Data science is transforming this world, and offering new, timely, detailed ways to understand how the economy is doing.

Stian Westlake, Louise Marston and Hasan Bakhshi from Nesta will showcase some of the most interesting examples from Nesta’s work and beyond, including:

  • How to map and analyse high-tech start-ups
  • How to understand where skilled jobs are being created, and where vacancies are
  • The search for early indicators of economic growth
  • The social networks that drive high-tech growth

This talk will be of interest to anyone who cares about the economic fate of the world we live in, and particular to policymakers, journalists and investors.

Photo of Stian Westlake

Stian Westlake


Executive Director of Policy & Research at Nesta, the UK’s national foundation for innovation.

Photo of Louise Marston

Louise Marston


I work on innovation in businesses using new technologies at NESTA, an independent body with a mission to make the UK more innovative.

I joined NESTA in 2009 and have authored reports on a semiconductor design cluster and the need for collaboration in the biomedical industry. I also co-ordinate a series of events on emerging technologies. Big Data is a theme of my work for 2012.

Hasan Bakhshi


Hasan leads NESTA’s creative industries and digital policy and research.

Prior to NESTA, Hasan worked as Executive Director and Senior International Economist at Lehman Brothers, and as Deputy Chief Economist at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

He has eight years’ experience as an economist at the Bank of England. Hasan has published widely in academic journals and policy publications on topics ranging from technological progress and economic growth to the economics of the creative and cultural sector.

He has also consulted for a number of organisations, including the European Commission, the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment and the British Film Institute. Hasan has a BA in Economics from Cambridge and an MPhil in Economics from the University of Oxford.

He is also Honorary Visiting Professor at City University, Research Fellow at the ARC Centre for Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation at the Queensland University of Technology and a member of the Creative Industries Council.


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