Minister welcomes European digital body setting up shop in Edinburgh

Scotland’s digital credentials have been given a boost after a European organisation with a €100 million annual budget opened its first UK satellite office, in Edinburgh.

Ivan McKee: 'This project will allow academia and businesses to work together to drive innovation'. Picture: John Devlin

EIT Digital, which is described as a leading digital innovation and entrepreneurial education organisation, is basing its new operation at the University of Edinburgh.

Funded by Scottish Enterprise, the Scottish Funding Council and EIT Digital, and hosted by the university’s Bayes Centre, the office will contribute to achieving the Scottish Government’s goals to deepen links between Scotland and the EU, increase innovation and investment in research and development, fuel university-industry knowledge exchange, develop skills in Scottish businesses and “promote Scotland’s offer to investors and talent”.

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EIT Digital is one of eight Innovation Communities of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology. It has ten “co-location centres” across Europe, including one in London, and the Scottish office is the first satellite operation to be opened in the UK.

The Edinburgh satellite intends to host a new doctoral training centre, with a focus on financial technology, or fintech, and cyber security via a new programme supported by the Scottish Government’s Cyber Resilience Unit and ScotlandIS, along with “other areas of national strategic importance”. Its students will be supported by universities across Scotland with the first of them expected to start later this year.

EIT Digital chief executive Willem Jonker said: “This new Edinburgh satellite will allow EIT Digital to deepen the connections with the Scottish innovation ecosystem and to intensify our relationship with the Scottish private and public sectors.”

Scottish innovation minister Ivan McKee said: “Our vision is for a Scotland where innovation is an intrinsic part of our culture, our society and our economy.

“For decades, Scotland has participated in European projects, led strategic partnerships and welcomed people from across the EU and around the world. We have always valued the resulting skills, diversity and talent that is brought into our economy and society.

“Regardless of the outcome of Brexit, Scotland will continue to be an outward-looking, open and welcoming country.

“This project will allow academia and businesses to work together to drive innovation. It also enables Scotland to raise the profile of its digital assets across Europe, helping to attract both inward talent and investment while connecting Scotland’s businesses to experts and potential collaborators.”

EIT Digital has an annual budget of some €100m to “drive Europe’s digital transformation”.