Abrdn and University of Edinburgh join forces to catalyse investment innovation

Scottish investment giant Abrdn has teamed up with the University of Edinburgh to create a facility dedicated to fostering innovation in the investment sector – saying it will “help shape the future” of the latter.

The new Centre for Investing Innovation is being bankrolled to the tune of £7.5 million over five years by Abrdn, which recently hailed 2021 as its “reset” year, and the venture will be based in the University’s Edinburgh Futures Institute, which is focused on addressing critical challenges facing society.

The partnership has been supported by Edinburgh Innovations, the University’s commercialisation service, and is expected to see academic and business expertise across multiple disciplines feeding into collaborative research.

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"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 Edinburgh-based finance firm said.

Alan Coutts, investment chief operating officer at 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.

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Three core priorities will shape the initial work of the centre. As well sustainability, including the exploration of how innovative investment practices can benefit society, also on the list are thematic and innovating investing, with the latter aiming to “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”.

Abrdn boss Stephen Bird welcomed the partnership, saying: “Together we will explore the great societal challenges of sustainable investing and explore new ways of creating financial wellbeing in a rapidly changing world.

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Professor Peter Mathieson said the partnership with Abrdn will see the University of Edinburgh's multidisciplinary researchers 'help shape the very future of investment'. Picture: Chris Close.

“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.”

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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’s] collaborations with commercial partners help deliver innovation and insights that have wide-ranging benefits across society.”

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