More than 120 people gathered at the weekend for an inaugural event which aims to harness digital expertise to help grow the tourism sector in Scotland.

The first stage of The Edinburgh Tourism Innovation Challenge (ETIC) took place at the CodeBase tech incubator in the capital.

Run by innovation centre The Data Lab and Product Forge, and sponsored by IntechnologyWifi and Scottish Enterprise, the ‘challenge weekend’ brought together data and tourism enthusiasts to form 16 teams, with an overall aim to solve challenges in Edinburgh’s tourism industry with data-driven solutions.

The teams focused their energy on creating projects with key objectives such as predicting visitor patterns, modelling movement and flow of people around the city and helping discovery of new or under-utilised tourism spots.

The winning idea was from Team Budi, made up of Jack Horsburgh, Zsolt Husz, Erin Roche and Sean Paterson. Team Budi utilised IntechnologyWifi and Historic Environment Scotland data to create TruScot – a mobile app, designed to incentivise visitors with points and discounts to visit tourist attractions outside the usual tourist hotspots.

Runners up included Team T, which created a platform making visitor data accessible to local businesses to help them make data-driven decisions. Fellow runners up, Team Geyser built an online dashboard that analysed visitor data and presented it in a way that was quickly understandable for local businesses. The A Team used beacon technology to send push notifications to mobile devices to spread visitors out.

The ideas will be showcased at the upcoming ETAG Digital Solutions for Tourism Conference on 26th October 2017 at the National Museum of Scotland.

The next stage of #ETIC17 is the launch of a £15,000 Innovation Fund, sponsored by ETAG. Teams are encouraged to apply for funding to help develop data-driven solutions for Edinburgh’s Tourism Industry. The Innovation Fund will award five projects up to £3,000 each.

ETIC will culminate during DataFest18, in Spring 2018, where the developed and prototyped ideas funded will be presented during a DataFest18 Fringe event.

Joshua Ryan-Saha, Skills Manager at The Data Lab, said: “What is great about this initiative is not just the collaboration across different sectors but the focus on identifying key challenges affecting tourism in Edinburgh and then actively finding innovative ways to address them. It will be good to see how these ideas are taken forward.”

Danny Cusick, Director of Tourism, Textiles and Food & Drink at Scottish Enterprise, said: “The Edinburgh Tourism Innovation Challenge has produced a strong field of excellent concepts. Tourism and data innovation are two of Edinburgh, and Scotland’s, most dynamic industries. This was recently recognised by the Open Data Institute’s new UK Tech Innovation Index which named Edinburgh as the most active tech innovation community outside of London.”

Natalie Duffield, CEO at IntechnologyWifi, added: “I’m delighted to see collaborations between tourism and data innovation businesses progress this weekend. We look forward to supporting these teams to develop their innovative ideas and connect them to potential commercial buyers from across the visitor economy to enable new tourism growth opportunities. We have been very impressed with the quality of ideas brought forward by the teams over the weekend, some of which could be successfully developed into commercial applications of great potential. We were also inspired by watching talented and ambitious individuals from all over the world come together at ETIC17 and try to solve problems for the good of Edinburgh. As the city’s digital partner, our WiFi network can provide the platform for their innovations to support the sustainable growth of the tourism industry.”

Data represents a £20 billion transformational opportunity for Scotland’s economy as businesses understand and harness the massive benefits of data-driven innovation. It is estimated that Scotland’s strengths in data could attract an additional 1,500 new jobs by 2020.