The University of Edinburgh and global asset firm 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 of Edinburgh as Centre Director.

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, the University’s commercialisation service.

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.

Stephen Bird, CEO, abrdn, commented: “I am really excited about this new partnership with Edinburgh University who’s 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.”

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.”