By Prof Michael Rovatsos, Director of the Bayes Centre at The University of Edinburgh.

The University of Edinburgh is home to The Bayes Centre, an innovation hub for data science and artificial intelligence, which brings together academics and students working in the fields of data technology, design informatics, maths and robotics with start-up / spin-out companies and industrial collaborators.

The Bayes Centre, which opened in 2018, works in partnership with Scottish Enterprise as part of the Data-Driven Innovation (DDI) Programme within the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal. It collaborates closely with other DDI hubs, the Edinburgh Futures Institute, the Usher Institute, the National Robotarium, and Easter Bush.

Prof Michael Rovatsos

Prof Michael Rovatsos, Director of the Bayes Centre at The University of Edinburgh.

Data driven solutions

The Bayes Centre offers a new kind of collaborative, multidisciplinary proving ground where we develop innovative technological solutions for the benefit of society. We have a community of more than 400 internationally recognised scientists, PhD students, industry experts and innovation support professionals, working together across disciplines and sectors to advance data technology and apply it to real-world problems.

Data science education, tech entrepreneurship, and industrially driven, multidisciplinary research and design are the core pillars of our strategy to boost the University’s impact across the Scotland and internationally, through new activity that complements the existing strengths of our community.

Our partners develop solutions in many areas, from building robots that help maintain oil platforms and monitor grain storage, to using satellite data to understand how deforestation impacts climate change or help insurance companies estimate flood risks.

Digital solutions nowadays all have global importance, and we are working with researchers and companies that all aim to bring innovation to international markets. We are attracting bright minds who want to make a difference in the world using technology, whether they are building apps that help navigate food allergies or developing new technologies that help save energy in your home.

Global collaboration

We have several ongoing partnerships, which span different sectors and focus areas. Our most recent is with several industry partners and the City of Edinburgh and focuses on building a data platform that allows local government and industry to respond to, and recover from, the Covid-19 pandemic.

It will help local government and businesses understand the impact of Covid-19 on how people move around the city, how they can access services in their neighbourhoods and how customers, workers, and goods reach businesses.

We collate and use data from various sources including businesses, government data, satellites and sensors. This will enable the government and organisations to make evidence-based decisions on how they can best adapt infrastructure and services to respond to the way the world is changing.

We believe there is great potential for using data as the connector between everyone who has been affected by the pandemic around the world, from cities to countries and the global community, to develop a new way of addressing global challenges through collaboration.

The data capital of Europe

Since opening our doors three years ago, we have established ourselves as a unique destination for collaboration in the heart of Edinburgh.

To date, we have seen over 50 companies join our ecosystem. We have helped tech start-ups raise over £90m of investment and created almost 400 jobs through new research and innovation activity.

An enormous amount of work has gone into starting up this activity, and we are well on our way to achieving our long-term ambition, undeterred by the challenges around us.

With further innovation hubs being formed around us, soon we will grow our capacity to deliver the long-term ambition of establishing Edinburgh as the data capital for Europe. I personally think this will enable us to scale our impact to the whole of Scotland by linking these hubs to a country-wide innovation network. The Bayes Centre is just the beginning, and judging by its great successes so far, we can expect a bright future for Scotland as a leading global player in the world of digital innovation.

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