Innovative research partnership with University of Edinburgh and abrdn announced

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abrdn and University of Edinburgh have formed a £7.5m industry-academic partnership to deliver innovation in the investment sector. Based in the Edinburgh Futures Institute, the partnership will establish a new Centre for Investing Innovation.

abrdn and University of Edinburgh have formed a £7.5m industry-academic partnership to deliver innovation in the investment sector.

Based in the Edinburgh Futures Institute, the partnership will establish a new Centre for Investing Innovation with funding of £7.5 million over five years from abrdn, the global asset manager.

Alan Coutts, Investment Chief Operating Officer, abrdn, will chair the Centre’s Strategic Opportunities and Futures Board, with Sotirios Sabanis, Director of Knowledge Exchange at the School of Mathematics, leading for the University as Centre Director.

A truly cross-University collaboration

Ksenia Grant, Financial Services & Fintech Sector Engagement Manager at the Edinburgh Futures Institute, worked across University of Edinburgh departments and Schools to develop the partnership with abrdn.

She provided support for the development of the joint proposal for the Centre, working closely with the academic leads Sotirios Sabanis (School of Mathematics) and John Vines (School of Informatics), liaising with a range of academic and professional services colleagues across the University.

Lorraine Kerr and the rest of the Strategic Projects Team at Edinburgh Innovations as well as Rosie Wilkie, Business Development Executive in the School of Mathematics provided vital support for the project.

Multidisciplinary and collaborative research partnership

This ambitious initiative is shaped by EFI’s unique approach to partnership. Multidisciplinary co-creation is at the core of the new Centre and EFI’s DD+L (Data and Design Lab) are a vital element of the partnership. DD+L will bring collaborative design tools and the innovative approach that abrdn are looking for to help define challenges and scope projects for joint collaborative research.

Edinburgh Futures Institute is uniquely positioned to bring such partnerships with the Financial Services sector to fruition. With financial technology and services a cornerstone focus, EFI works across the University to foster collaboration with Schools and researchers. EFI’s approach supports delivery of social purpose aims and outcomes.

Director of Financial Technology and Services for EFI, Professor Gbenga Ibikunle commented:

“It is important to establish collaborative, research-driven and innovative partnerships with partners, helping people work towards their goals in ways that creates opportunities leading to improvements in societal welfare. The collaboration with abrdn does just this – brings world leading research expertise here at the University of Edinburgh together with abrdn’s focus on creating a better future for communities, the environment and the industries at the heart of addressing the critical challenges facing our society – from advancing financial wellbeing to driving the transition to net zero”

Academic and business expertise across multiple disciplines will feed into collaborative research in the new Centre. This will support abrdn by leveraging excellent academic insight on the challenges and opportunities facing the company and sector. It will also drive new understanding of investment-related social and environmental sustainability issues.

Three core priorities

Sustainability’ will ensure abrdn is at the forefront of future trends differentiating outcomes associated to environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors and how they continue to be embedded in the abrdn investment process. It will also explore how innovative investment practices can deliver societal benefits.

Thematic investing’ aims to harness the insights of both abrdn and the University of Edinburgh to expand delivery of innovative future investment themes.

Innovating investing’ will further guide and embed technology, data science and artificial intelligence into abrdn’s investment.

Stephen Bird, CEO, abrdn, commented:

“I am really excited about this new partnership with Edinburgh University whose track record of innovation and commitment to creating positive change is truly world class. Together we will explore the great societal challenges of sustainable investing and explore new ways of creating financial wellbeing in a rapidly changing world.

“This supports our goal of helping clients to be better investors and it provides an excellent development opportunity for our people to spend some time outside of financial services applying their knowledge and expertise and learning new skills.”

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Edinburgh Innovations is the University of Edinburgh’s commercialisation service. EI leads the University’s activities in industry engagement and business development, enterprise support for students and staff, and the identification, management and commercialisation of University intellectual property.

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