Staff Services Student Enterprise

University of Edinburgh and abrdn announce £7.5m Centre for Investing Innovation

05 Apr 2022

The University of Edinburgh and abrdn have formed an industry-academic partnership to deliver innovation in the investment sector.

The partnership will establish the Centre for Investing Innovation with funding of £7.5 million over five years from abrdn, the global asset manager. It will be based within the University’s Edinburgh Futures Institute, which is focused on addressing the critical challenges facing society.

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, acting as lead for the University as Centre Director.

Collaborative research

Academic and business expertise across multiple disciplines will feed into collaborative research. This will support investment strategy at abrdn by leveraging world-class academic insight on the challenges and opportunities facing the company’s clients and the global investment sector. It will also drive new understanding of investment-related social and environmental sustainability issues.

The partnership has been supported by Edinburgh Innovations in a cross-University industry-engagement process.

Core priorities

Three core priorities will shape the initial work of the centre:

  • 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 themes of positive return for clients.
  • Innovating investing’ will further guide and embed technology, data science and artificial intelligence into abrdn’s business to support investors to drive future client-led growth and improve efficiency.

Professor Peter Mathieson, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Edinburgh, said:

Through our partnership with abrdn, our multidisciplinary researchers will be working with a global asset management business to help shape the very future of investment.
The University of Edinburgh’s collaborations with commercial partners help deliver innovation and insights that have wide-ranging benefits across society, and I’m proud that we are at the forefront of such industry engagement.

Stephen Bird, CEO of abrdn, said:

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.

Sotirios Sabanis, Director of Knowledge Exchange of the School of Mathematics, said:

This exciting new centre will apply our leading research capabilities in data science, financial modelling, sustainability and much more. It will bring opportunities for researchers to deliver impact and for students to gain insights from real-world challenges and their solutions.
My colleagues and I look forward to starting the co-creation process with our industry partner, which will bring long-term benefits to both sides of the partnership, wider society and the economy.

Industry engagement

The industry engagement process was led for EI by Ksenia Grant, Financial Services and Fintech Sector Engagement Manager based at the Edinburgh Futures Institute, working with Lorraine Kerr in EI's Strategic Partnerships team. Professor John Vines at the School of Informatics and Rosie Wilkie, Business Development Executive at the School of Mathematics, were also instrumental in delivering the partnership.

Related links


Edinburgh Futures Institute

EI services for staff

Work with the University of Edinburgh