School of Informatics

Scottish Enterprise Press Release

The following statement was made by Scottish Enterprise on the 8th September 2005 regarding the creation of the Informatics Forum.

Green Light for Informatics Forum

An Edinburgh city centre site, set to be transformed into the world's leading centre for computing science and information related research, received a £19 million boost today (Thursday 8 September). Scottish Enterprise Edinburgh and Lothian has secured an additional £14 million from the Scottish Executive towards the £42 million construction costs of the University of Edinburgh's Informatics Forum - a unique purpose built, 12,000m2 research facility that will place Scotland at the forefront of this rapidly growing global industry. Welcoming the announcement, the Minister for Enterprise and Lifelong Learning, Nicol Stephen, said: ’The Informatics Forum project is being strongly supported by Scottish Ministers. It is an exceptional project and that is why we have offered £14m of additional funding to Scottish Enterprise to support it.’ ‘I am delighted Scottish Enterprise has given it the go ahead. This £42m project is of international importance for Scotland. It will significantly advance Scotland’s position as a world leader in the new science of informatics.’ ‘I am certain that collaboration with other universities and with other disciplines will lead to major scientific breakthroughs with exciting commercialisation opportunities.’

It will significantly advance Scotland’s position as a world leader in the new science of informatics.

Nicol StephenScottish Minister for Enterprise and Lifelong Learning

A further £5 million has been awarded by Scottish Enterprise Edinburgh and Lothian towards a strategy which will maximise engagement with local and international industry, ensuring Scotland reaps the economic benefits the Forum will generate.

Planned for the Crichton Street site, the Forum will bring the school’s researchers, who are currently dispersed across the city, together under one roof providing opportunities for interaction, innovation and public engagement. The state-of-the-art facilities will attract top researchers, students and visitors from around the world, generating world class research and increasing opportunities for commercialisation.

The Forum will provide space and facilities for visiting researchers and students and act as a base for international visitors, establishing the Forum as a recognised international centre that can draw on all of Scotland’s research excellence in informatics and enable Scotland to take a lead in realising the opportunities that this strength will generate.

Jim McFarlane, Chief Executive of Scottish Enterprise Edinburgh and Lothian, added: ‘In an increasingly knowledge-driven economy, excellence in research is vital for the future development of the Scottish economy. ‘The development of the Informatics Forum represents a real opportunity to support a sector in which Scotland is already a global player and create a truly world-class facility that will continue to attract the best research talent in the world and have a significant impact on the Scottish economy through the commercialisation opportunities it will generate.’

Tim O’Shea, Principal of the University of Edinburgh, says: ‘Scotland is already a world-leader in a number of areas of Informatics and with the vision and support of the Scottish Executive and Scottish Enterprise Edinburgh and Lothian it will become even stronger.’

a significant impact on the Scottish economy

Jim McFarlaneChief Executive of Scottish Enterprise Edinburgh and Lothian

The University of Edinburgh's School of Informatics is considered one of Scotland's national assets and one of the top five locations in the world for computing science and information related research. It faces pressure, however, from institutions such as MIT, Stanford and Cambridge who are investing in similar facilities that enable cross-disciplinary research and greater interaction with industry. Edinburgh’s School of Informatics already has established links with industry, including leading companies that include IBM, Sony, Sun Microsystems, Honda, Microsoft, Royal Bank of Scotland and the World Health Organisation. The £5 million commercialisation strategy will allow a dedicated team to further develop these links with industry and examine how informatics research can be exploited by a range of industry sectors, including healthcare, life sciences, financial services and electronics. Other elements of the strategy include:

  • The provision of 1,200m2 of flexible office-space that can be used both by businesses working on collaborative projects with the research teams in the adjacent Appleton Tower
  • a programme of activities to encourage entrepreneurship throughout all levels of the School’s activities and encourage greater links with the University’s management school
  • an international PR and marketing campaign to promote the Forum internationally and leverage its global alumni network
  • a new area called InSpace open to the members of the public and designed to promote how informatics research is impacting on all aspects of society, from the arts, media and the environment to finance, science and medicine

Today’s funding announcement means that work can now begin on the Forum. Planning permission has already been granted for the project and the facility is expected to be completed by the end of 2007. The project is also being supported by the University of Edinburgh, Scottish Higher Education Funding Council, the Wolfson Foundation and private donations.