An anonymous donor has pledged £10 million to fund a University of Edinburgh initiative addressing some of society’s most pressing concerns.
The gift – the biggest ever capital donation to the university – will help transform the city’s former Royal Infirmary into a state-of-the-art home for the Edinburgh Futures Institute.
Launched yesterday, the institute will bring together university researchers with other partners to tackle major issues within the economy, education and societies worldwide.
Researchers will, for example, consider how theology can help tackle climate change or what business management can do to alleviate the refugee crisis.
They will also examine ways lawyers can foster creativity and consider how design informatics can tackle inequality. The donation will help give it a permanent home. A wing of the Category A-listed former Royal Infirmary, which is now part of the Quartermile development, will be sensitively renovated.
The restored building which has lain empty since 2003 will be open to the public when it is completed in 2021.
The institute will play an important part in ambitious plans to make Edinburgh and its surrounding area Europe’s data capital.
When it moves into the former Royal Infirmary in 2021, it will be one of the largest centres for interdisciplinary learning and research in Europe.
It will showcase the university’s world-renowned expertise in the humanities, social sciences and arts, alongside its sector-leading work in data science – the collecting, organising and interpreting of large sets of digital information. The Institute will also be looking at public policy, finance, and the arts.
Welcoming the donation, Professor Sir Timothy O’Shea, university vice-chancellor, said: “We are deeply grateful for this visionary gift to the university, which will help us to create a truly exceptional teaching and research environment within the Edinburgh Futures Institute.
“The institute will challenge us to think differently about how we can affect change, both locally and globally.”
Professor Dorothy Miell, vice-principal and head of the college of arts, humanities and social sciences, said:“The world is experiencing major changes. This presents big challenges. We need different ways of thinking about these issues and of devising new solutions. Edinburgh Futures Institute will make that difference.”