The centre will seek to improve how data is used to benefit bank customers, students, researchers and policymakers. In addition, the research it conducts will also elaborate on previous joint work between the University and NatWest.

Both companies have previously worked on technological innovation in financial services provision, harnessing data for public good and climate education.

Dame Alison Rose, CEO of NatWest Group, said: “By combining the University of Edinburgh’s world-class research and social science expertise with NatWest’s in-depth customer and business understanding, we are creating a partnership which drives innovation and ensures that our customer experience is best in class.

NatWest’s profitable first quarter

For NatWest, the launch of the research centre follows a profitable first quarter. According to its Q1 2023 earnings, NatWest marked +50% profits before tax, rising year-on-year to £1.8bn. The profits after tax jumped by 48% to £1.24 compared to a year before.

In May, the bank announced investing £1bn in additional lending to achieve net zero across financed emissions, assets and operational value chain by 2050.

Professor Sir Peter Mathieson, principal and vice-chancellor of the University of Edinburgh, said: “Our world is faced with a variety of significant and complex challenges, from poor health to climate change and the complicated mix of challenge and opportunity associated with the emergence of artificial intelligence.

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“The Centre for Purpose-Driven Innovation in Banking will bring together the University’s expertise with NatWest’s in-depth data and business understanding to co-create multidisciplinary research with business applications”, Mathieson continued. “The insights generated will help us translate cutting-edge research into real-world solutions to benefit society.”