Inspiring innovation

‘Groundbreaking’ Smart Data Foundry unveils board

Fiona Duncan and Stephen Ingledew are among the new recruits

Smart Data Foundry, the Edinburgh-based provider of data for research and innovation, has unveiled its inaugural board as it steps up plans to use financial information to tackle big societal issues. 

The not-for-profit organisation has delivered a number of groundbreaking projects in collaboration with financial institutions including research into the impact of Covid-19 and the cost-of-living crisis on the over-50s.

Joining chairwoman Dame Julia Unwin and chief executive Frank Gauld, the board is drawn from government, industry and academia bringing with them significant expertise across data and financial services. 

They are: 

  • Zachery Anderson, chief data officer, NatWest Group 
  • Professor Kim Graham, ]provost, University of Edinburgh 
  • Stephen Ingledew, chairman, FinTech Scotland 
  • Fiona Duncan, independent strategic adviser, the Promise 
  • Professor Chris Speed, director, Edinburgh Futures Institute 

Smart Data Foundry, formerly the Global Open Finance Centre of Excellence, was founded in September 2020 with initial funding of £23m from the UK Government through the UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) flagship Strength in Places Fund. 

Dame Julia commented: “Our mission to unlock the power of data has struck a chord with leading figures in academia and financial services so much so they have been motivated to join us and bring about change.

“We have demonstrated that we can work collaboratively to create clarity through data which can inform policies and decision-making. We want to inspire financial innovation and with this team, I am confident this ambition can be realised.” 

“NatWest Group was the first UK bank to partner with Smart Data Foundry and safely share data,” said Mr Anderson of NatWest Group.

“Data helps us make better decisions and power research into areas that complement the wider NatWest purpose to champion potential, helping people, families and businesses to thrive.” 

Mr Ingledew said: “Scotland has one of the fastest-growing Fintech clusters in the UK, if not the world.

“Essential to financial innovation is the ability to access and share data, and the groundbreaking work that Smart Data Foundry is leading to create synthetic data unlocks the huge opportunities to inspire financial innovation that will benefit so many consumers and businesses.” 

Helping to improve people’s lives is core to Smart Data Foundry’s purpose and chimes with Scottish Government strategic adviser Fiona Duncan’s  20 years of experience working in the voluntary sector in Scotland and overseas.  

Ms Duncan said: “I have spent my career working to encourage positive change, opportunity, fairness and growth of aspirations which improve quality of life.

“This will demand Scotland takes a different approach to how it thinks about data, moving beyond ‘system’ measures to what the data is telling us and what really matters to the people.”

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