UK Government wants Edinburgh to have a global role – Douglas Ross

With projects like the Edinburgh Futures Institute and the National Robotarium, Scotland’s capital has a bright future at the cutting edge of technology, writes Douglas Ross MP.

Tuesday, 28th January 2020, 6:00 am
Douglas Ross is MP for Moray and a UK Government minister for Scotland

This year will mark two years of progress on the £1.3 billion Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal. More than £68 million of Government funding has been spent and 15 projects are already being implemented, including the National Robotarium and ­Edinburgh Futures Institute.

It was great to start the year with a visit to one of its flagship projects – the Bayes Centre at the University of Edinburgh.

The Bayes Centre is one of five new technology hubs that the UK Government is funding as part of its £300 million City Deal investment in ­Edinburgh and South East Scotland.

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Douglas Ross MP and Peter Mathieson, Edinburgh University Principal and Vice-Chancellor,

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National Robotarium will give Scotland competitive edge in robotics

It hosts a community of more than 400 internationally recognised scientists, PhD students, and leading industry experts working on applying data science to real-world challenges.

Data science is about solving ­problems and designing better ­products and services by crunching the huge amount of information that is now available.

Thousands of jobs

Widespread use of microchips, ­sensors and satellites means we’re entering a new age of unprecedented data collection, and the UK is ­becoming a global expert in ­analysing it. This new industry will help us to secure a strong future for our economy.

By leading the way, we can create thousands of high-earning jobs and ensure businesses and public services in the UK are the first to benefit from the latest breakthroughs.

Precision medicine is a great example. This uses the growing body of health data along with advances in genetics, such as the UK Biobank, to improve the effectiveness of diagnosis and treatment.

This will not only make us all healthier, but will also save our NHS money as well. One recent study at the Usher Institute, another hub funded by the UK Government through the Edinburgh deal, has cut the hospital stay of patients coming to A&E with chest pain by a third and also improved ­diagnosis of heart attacks in women.

Getting Brexit done

Looking ahead to the COP26 Climate Conference that the UK is hosting in Glasgow later this year, our data science sector has a vital role to play in making systems across the world more efficient and reducing energy usage.

The UK Government will continue to lead on tackling climate change – last year it became the first major economy to pass new laws to reduce emissions to net zero by 2050.

The UK Government is acting ­decisively to unlock our country’s potential – getting Brexit done, investing more than £1.4 billion into City Region and Growth Deals across Scotland, and funding quality public services.

We’re working closely with the Scottish Government, which is our joint partner on the deals, but it’s important that it delivers strong education and skills training so that everyone in Scotland can benefit from the jobs that are being created.

When the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Deal was signed the aim was to make the region the data capital of Europe, but as we start this new decade I predict a much more global role awaits.

Douglas Ross is MP for Moray and a UK Government minister for Scotland.