Presenting the 2022 Data Insights Bootcamp

This summer, we had the pleasure of welcoming an enthusiastic group of Newcastle University students to The Catalyst to take part in the 2022 Data Insights Bootcamp, an intensive two-week programme we deliver which offers experiential learning to students by giving them the opportunity to work with real-world data problems. The Bootcamp is coordinated by Barry Hodgson, Director of Strategy here at the National Innovation Centre for Data, and Graham Cole, Lecturer in Enterprise at Newcastle University.

The Data Insights Bootcamp teams students with industry partners who bring ‘live’ data problems with them, and the students then work together with the industry partners to explore the problems and propose relevant solutions. The Bootcamp experience is unique, as it is an extracurricular programme rather than a compulsory module, and students from across the University can opt in, both to complement their existing studies and to try something new. Graham notes that “students work in groups with peers from different parts of the University, all at different stages of their courses.”

The Bootcamp has been running for two years – including hybrid and online formats when it wasn’t possible to get everyone together in person. The 2022 Bootcamp was the first to welcome students from the University’s Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences (HaSS) as well as the Faculty of Science, Agriculture and Engineering (SAgE). For many, it was their first time being exposed to data science or any of its related concepts and competencies. “Before starting the Bootcamp, I didn’t quite understand how much data science is involved in any business,” says Daniele, one of the students who took part this year. “It definitely forced me, in a good way, to think outside the box.”


"Before starting the Bootcamp, I didn't quite understand how much data science is involved in any business. It definitely forced me, in a good way, to think outside the box."

Daniele, Student and Bootcamp Participant


The Bootcamp is not only a great opportunity for students at the University to learn about industry, the organisations that we partner with have a great deal to gain too. “The students will spend about 500 hours interrogating the business problem and thinking about the best-fit solution,” explains Barry Hodgson. “That’s 500 hours of fresh thinking and fresh minds focussed on your business problem.” Throughout the Bootcamp, our industry partners are also able to work with the next generation of student talent coming out of Newcastle University, which is great news for students and businesses alike.

This year, we welcomed an exciting array of industry partners to join us in delivering the Bootcamp, representing sectors as diverse as construction, energy, and performing arts. This included teams from Bowmer + Kirkland, BP, Northern Stage and Opera North, all of whom were kind enough to speak to us for the short film featured here, and all of whom were impressed with the way in which the student groups tackled the problems that were brought to the table. “The outcomes have been really great,” says Peter Robson, Head of Commercial and Operations at Northern Stage. “What they’ve come up with are actual viable solutions to our problems, and we will take them forward.” Our partners were equally impressed by the students’ curiosity and ability to ask questions, too. “The students do question you, they do challenge you, and they give you new ideas,” adds Emily Simpson, Director of Audiences at Opera North.

Data science and data skills are only going to become more important as time goes by, and tomorrow’s graduates will benefit from a good grounding in data-related concepts and competencies. “Graduates that come through the University will require a greater level of data competency as they go out into the marketplace,” says Graham Cole. Luckily, the Data Insights Bootcamp has repeatedly proven itself to be an effective and enjoyable way of introducing such concepts and competencies to a wider audience. “By bringing together data skills and innovation thinking, the students have a skillset that they can add to their CV,” adds Barry Hodgson. “More importantly, they start to understand the language of industry.” 


"By bringing together data skills and innovation thinking, the students have a skillset that they can add to their CV. More importantly, they start to understand the language of industry."

Barry Hodgson, National Innovation Centre for Data


To find out more about this year's Data Insights Bootcamp, and to see it brought to life. be sure to watch the short film featured above. And, as always, make sure you're following us on Twitter and LinkedIn for all the latest updates on events and activities like the Bootcamp.



We would like to thank Bowmer + Kirkland, BP, Northern Stage and Opera North for participating in this year's Data Insights Bootcamp. We would also like to thank Graham Cole and everyone at Newcastle University for their invaluable work in putting the Bootcamp together. Finally, huge thanks to Kaleidoscope CFA for helping us create such a great short film.

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