" /> Design partners bring digital future to festival crowds — Edinburgh Innovations

Edinburgh’s festival-goers are trying out digital innovations developed by a partnership between Tesco Bank and University of Edinburgh students and academics.

Data Pipe Dreams: Glimpse of the Near Future is an interactive pavilion of the Centre for Design Informatics at the University, open throughout August and free to visit on Edinburgh’s George Street.

Tesco Bank collaboration

Three prototypes featured in the pavilion are the result of Project Mercury, a unique collaboration between the Centre of Design Informatics and Tesco Bank designed to explore fintech, develop talent and foster innovation and creative thinking.

‘deedit’ encourages locals and visitors to carry out small acts of kindness, such as picking up litter, buying a sandwich for a stranger or giving directions. Users are encouraged to record their activity via the ‘deedit’ app or website and are shown how their deeds have helped to impact on bigger, positive social change.

‘Lens’ allows visitors to take part in a game that highlights how their personal data – such as Facebook profile or Amazon purchases – might influence their success during a fictional job application.

‘Tess’ lets visitors see what could happen if financial service organisations used artificial intelligence and machine learning to help improve customers’ financial wellbeing. The conceptual device uses lighting effects – such as different colours and levels of brightness – to indicate the health of a customer’s spending habits.

Fintech co-designs

Project Mercury has been running for the past year. Through a series of workshops, lectures and internships, University students and academics have worked in partnership with Tesco Bank’s digital and design-practice department to explore the possibilities of emerging digital technologies, such as blockchain.

“One of the challenges we face is helping people understand the impact new data technologies will have on their lives. The partnership with Tesco Bank has been a fantastic help. Co-designing imaginative, human-centred experiences with the financial sector here in Edinburgh demonstrates that the city is becoming a world leader in fintech design.”


– Chris Speed, Director of the Centre for Design Informatics, University of Edinburgh

The Project Mercury partnership was facilitated by Edinburgh Innovations.

Early discussions soon developed into a relationship between the University and Tesco Bank staff involving 12 students and more than 20 multidisciplinary academics.

Executive education

Tesco Bank staff worked with both students and researchers on the three Data Pipe Dreams projects, while University staff provided an executive education programme, visiting Tesco Bank on a weekly basis for both lectures and ‘deep dive’ workshops in fields including fintech and digital societies.

Internships have taken place in both directions – University staff working at Tesco Bank, and Tesco Bank staff working at the University.

“Working with the University has provided a range of exciting development opportunities for our colleagues. Participants in Project Mercury have explored ways in which we can harness developments in data technologies and how these could be used to help deliver better services for our customers. This partnership demonstrates our commitment to talent development, innovation and the exploration of new and emerging technologies.”


– Grant Bourbousson, Digital Director, Tesco Bank

Related links

BBC coverage

University news

Design Informatics