New banking innovation centre launched with NatWest

The University has announced a new partnership with the NatWest Group to improve how data is used to benefit bank customers, students, researchers and policy makers.

(left - right): Dame Alison Rose and University of Edinburgh Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Peter Mathieson
Dame Alison Rose, CEO of NatWest Group, and University of Edinburgh Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Peter Mathieson

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.

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.

Professor Sir Peter MathiesonPrincipal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Edinburgh

Society benefits

The Centre builds on previous joint work between the University and the banking group around technological innovation in financial services provision, harnessing data for public good and climate education.

The partnership 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.

Innovation activity will include skills and talent development for bank staff and university students and challenge-led research and development activities.

The Centre will be 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 – and will draw on expertise from more than 100 academics across the whole of the University.

Professor Michael Rovatsos, Chair in Artificial Intelligence at the School of Informatics, will co-direct the Centre with Professor Gbenga Ibikunle, Chair in Finance at the University’s Business School.

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.

Alison RoseCEO of NatWest Group

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.

Professor Gbenga IbikunleChair in Finance at the University of Edinburgh Business School

Related links

Edinburgh Innovations | The University of Edinburgh

Data-Driven Innovation | Innovation & Collaboration (

The Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal