DDI hubs to lead purpose-driven banking centre

The Data-Driven Innovation hubs Edinburgh Futures Institute and the Bayes Centre are to lead the creation of a new centre for purpose-driven banking. The centre is a partnership between NatWest Group and the University of Edinburgh, and will draw on expertise from more than 100 academics across the whole of the university.

The centre builds on previous joint work around technological innovation, harnessing data for public good and climate education. The new deal, supported by the university’s commercialisation service Edinburgh Innovations is planned to last for five years, with an initial commitment of £2m from the bank for the first two years.

The aim is to combine business insights from the bank with the university’s research, data and social science expertise to co-create data-driven solutions for the future of financial services. Innovation activity will include skills and talent development for bank staff and university students and challenge-led research and development activities. It should also bring the latest academic developments and thinking in data science and artificial intelligence, climate change, business and the social sciences to tackling issues in the banking sector.

Michael Rovatsos, chair in artificial intelligence at the School of Informatics, will co-direct the centre with Gbenga Ibikunle, chair in finance at the University of Edinburgh Business School.

Alison Rose, chief executive of NatWest Group, said: “By combining the University of Edinburgh’s world class research and social science expertise with NatWest’s in-depth customer and business understanding, we are creating a partnership which drives innovation and ensures that our customer experience is best in class.

“This, once again, shows that through the power of partnerships, we can support the people, families and business we serve and help them thrive.”

Peter Mathieson, principal and vice chancellor of the University of Edinburgh, said: “Our world is faced with a variety of significant and complex challenges, from poor health to climate change and the complicated mix of challenge and opportunity associated with the emergence of artificial intelligence.

“The Centre for Purpose-Driven Innovation in Banking will bring together the university’s expertise with NatWest’s in-depth data and business understanding to co-create multidisciplinary research with business applications.”

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