NatWest Group and the University of Edinburgh have today announced a new partnership based on challenge-led research and innovation that will improve how data is used to benefit bank customers, students, researchers and policy makers.
Dame Alison Rose and Sir Peter Mathieson seated opposite one another

The Centre for Purpose-Driven Innovation in Banking will combine business insights from NatWest Group (NWG) with the University’s research, data and social science expertise to co-create data-driven, novel solutions for the future of banking.

The new strategic partnership, supported by Edinburgh Innovations, the University of Edinburgh’s commercialisation service, is planned for five years, with an initial commitment of £2m from NWG for the first two years of activity.

Professor Gbenga Ibikunle, Professor and Chair of Finance, will co-direct the centre alongside Michael Rovatsos, Chair in Artificial Intelligence at the School of Informatics. Professor Ibikunle said: “The Centre for Purpose-Driven Innovation in Banking is another enhancement of the excellent student experience we provide at the University of Edinburgh. It will present our students and researchers with industry challenges and interactions to develop our talent for the future, and help our students secure graduate jobs. It will also ensure the impact of our research on the financial services sector and society beyond.”

Dame Alison Rose, CEO 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.”

Professor Sir 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. The insights generated will help us translate cutting edge research into real world solutions to benefit society.

The Centre, led by the Data-Driven Innovations hubs Edinburgh Futures Institute and the Bayes Centre, part of the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal, will draw on expertise from more than 100 academics across the whole of the University.

Innovation activity will include skills and talent development for bank staff and university students and challenge-led research and development activities. The Centre will bring the latest academic developments and thinking in data science and AI, climate change, business and the social sciences to tackling issues in the banking sector.

Gbenga Ibikunle

Gbenga Ibikunle is our Professor and Chair of Finance.