Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Deputy First Minister helps key researchers break new ground

Press Release

Date: 29 March 2006 ________________________________________


9.45-10.30AM, THURSDAY, 30 MARCH, 2006

Deputy First Minister Nicol Stephen will perform a groundbreaking ceremony on Thursday (30 March) at an Edinburgh city centre site which is being transformed into a leading centre for computing science and information related research. Mr Stephen, who is also Minister for Lifelong Learning and Enterprise, will don a hard hat and pour concrete at the proposed site of the University of Edinburgh’s new Informatics Forum in Crichton Street.

Prior to the groundbreaking ceremony, Mr Stephen will meet the University’s Principal, Professor Timothy O’Shea, at Appleton Tower – across the road from the Forum site. There, he will hear at first hand how the new facilities will attract top researchers, students and visitors from around the world, and generate world class research and opportunities for commercialisation. He will also have a chance to see a model of the new building.

Informatics is a dynamic, emerging discipline that encompasses areas such as computer science, artificial intelligence, cognitive science and linguistics. The Forum will bring researchers from the School of Informatics, who are currently dispersed across the city, together under one roof. The building will provide opportunities for innovation, interaction with other research institutions and industry, and engagement with the wider public.

The Scottish Executive has provided £14m through Scottish Enterprise Edinburgh and Lothian (SEEL) towards the £42 million construction costs of the Forum. A further £5 million has been awarded by SEEL towards a strategy which will maximise the Forum’s engagement with local and international industry, ensuring Scotland reaps the economic benefits that the project will generate. The initiative is also being supported by the University of Edinburgh, the Scottish Funding Council, the Wolfson Foundation and private donations.

Nicol Stephen said: “The University of Edinburgh’s reputation in informatics is exceptional, making it a global leader in the fields of computer science and artificial intelligence. This is a highly important project for Scotland, and that’s why we’re backing it with £14 million funding through Scottish Enterprise. This new facility will act as a hub for academic and commercial developments and significantly advance Scotland's position as a world leader in informatics.”

Professor O’Shea added: “Scotland is already a world-leader in a number of areas of Informatics and, with the vision and support of the Scottish Executive and Scottish Enterprise Edinburgh and Lothian, it will become even stronger. The University of Edinburgh’s School of Informatics is considered one of Scotland’s national assets and one of the top five locations in the world for computing science and information related research. It faces competition, however, from other institutions across the world who are investing in similar facilities that enable cross-disciplinary research and greater interaction with industry.”

For further information please contact:

Ronald Kerr, University of Edinburgh Press Office
Tel 0131 650 9547 or 07958 159 177. Email Ronald.Kerr@ed.ac.uk

Andrew Slorance, Scottish Executive
Tel: 0131 244 2672 Email Andrew.Slorance@scotland.gsi.gov.uk


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