Staff Services Student Enterprise

Celebrating the Centre for Investing Innovation with abrdn and University of Edinburgh

13 Jun 2023

Almost 200 colleagues from academia and investment gathered at the University of Edinburgh today to celebrate and understand significant new research projects announced by the Centre for Investing Innovation, a strategic partnership between the University and abrdn, the Global Asset Manager.

The Centre, based within the University’s Edinburgh Futures Institute (EFI), announced funding for two new key projects including:

  • Avoided Emissions of Portfolios - Intended as an initial phase of a larger research project, a scoping study to explore the challenges and possible solutions for quantifying the avoided emissions associated with investment portfolios.
  • Asset returns and ESG factors – An exploration of the relationship between asset returns and environmental, social and governance factors, shedding light on their effectiveness in investment decision-making.

These projects realise the Centre’s purpose to bring together industry and academic expertise to produce world-class research that will make the investment sector more sustainable, innovative and future-oriented with three key priorities:

Sustainability’ - exploring environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors and how innovative investment practices can deliver societal benefits.

Thematic investing’ - harnessing the insights of abrdn and the University of Edinburgh to expand delivery of innovative future themes.

Innovating investing’ - guiding and embedding technology, data science and artificial intelligence into abrdn’s business.

The partnership has been supported by Edinburgh Innovations, the University’s commercialisation service.

Peter Branner (Pictured above), Chief Investment Officer, abrdn, commented:

Innovation is the lifeblood of healthy and enduring organisations, so I’m delighted to see the launch of the Centre for Investing Innovation at the University of Edinburgh."
The ability to leverage world-class academic insight for the challenges and opportunities facing the sector, and our clients, is hugely exciting."
The emphasis on collaboration, co-creation and the opportunity to draw from multiple disciplines from across both organisations is very powerful."
I look forward to seeing the outcomes to the many other areas we will explore together.”

Professor Iain Gordon (Pictured above), Vice-Principal and Head of the College of Science and Engineering at the University of Edinburgh, said:

The University of Edinburgh is committed to working with partners to ensure our world-class research is of benefit to the world. We’re excited to be working with abrdn to ensure the success of the Centre for Investing Innovation."
Today’s announcement of two new projects funded by the Centre is great progress towards more sustainable and innovative investing which will have important impact on the sector."
There’s no doubt that this deeply interdisciplinary approach is of significant relevance and importance in the changing investment landscape.”

Professor Sotirios Sabanis, Centre Director and Director of Knowledge Exchange at the School of Mathematics, said:

These two new research projects are an exciting start to the Centre of Investing Innovation and highlight the benefits of working together with our partners at abrdn."
Both of these projects will have important insights for investing policy and innovation and we hope will lead to further projects and partnerships with even greater policy implications.”

Dr Mathew Brander, Senior Lecturer in Carbon Accounting, will lead the Avoided Emissions of Portfolios project in collaboration with Thomas Leys, Investment Director at abrdn. Matthew has worked since 2006 in greenhouse gas accounting and climate change policy appraisal, inconsultancy and academia.

Dr Yi Cao will lead the Asset returns and ESG factors project. This project will investigate the impact of granular ESG factors on the realized and expected returns, analyse the voluntarily disclosed ESG reports by companies and address the missing data problem in ESG data from vendors.

The Centre for Investing Innovation is a long-term innovative ecosystem leading to development of new products, services, and business improvements in the area of investment and financial services. In partnership, both abrdn’s need for innovation and the University of Edinburgh’s need for research impact will be met by combining the excellence inherent in both organisations to provide new opportunities through academic‐industry collaboration.

The result will be an accelerated platform for research, development and innovation that will address opportunities and challenges for abrdn and the investment sector and support the University’s strategic aim to be a global leader in artificial intelligence and the use of data with integrity.

Related Links

Edinburgh Futures Institute


College of Science and Engineering

School of Mathematics

Hear from Peter Branner, Daniel Shorr, Emily Smart and John Vines on the importance of this partnership and their ambitions for the centre.