£10m anonymous donation to Edinburgh University’s Futures Institute

The Futures Institute will be opened in the former Royal Infirmary building in Lauriston Place. Picture: Contributed
The Futures Institute will be opened in the former Royal Infirmary building in Lauriston Place. Picture: Contributed
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An anonymous donor has pledged £10m 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.

Professor Sir Timothy O'Shea, vice chancellor of the University of Edinburgh.

Professor Sir Timothy O'Shea, vice chancellor of the University of Edinburgh.

Launching today, the institute will bring together university researchers with other partners to tackle major issues within the economy, education and societies across the world.

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 in which lawyers can foster creativity and consider how design informatics can tackle inequality.

The institute will play an important part in ambitious plans to make Edinburgh and its surrounding area the data capital of Europe.

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.

The £10m gift will help give the institute a permanent home. It will sensitively renovate a wing of the Category A-listed former Royal Infirmary, which is now part of the Quartermile development.

The restored building, which will be open to the wider public, is due to be complete in 2021. It has lain empty since 2003.

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.

“By marrying our world-class expertise in the humanities, arts and social sciences with our sector-defining research in new data technologies, it will produce practical solutions and new approaches for the common good. This generous gift will help realise this vision.”