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Exploring the Edinburgh Futures Institute: Resources and support for data-driven research

In this guest blog post, Anna Votsi, EFI Research Proposals Manager, shares information about EFI’s research priorities and the support available to researchers.

The Edinburgh Futures Institute (EFI) is an interdisciplinary hub housing data driven research and innovation working to address major societal challenges through a programme of research, teaching, engagement, and data skills training. We are one of the university’s five DDI hubs established as part of the £1.3bn Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal.


Our broad mission is to harness the revolution in data, digital, and artificial intelligence for social benefit, promoting human flourishing and inclusive economic growth. We collaborate with industry, government and communities on challenge-led and data-rich activities with demonstrable ethical, social, cultural, economic and environmental impacts.

We focus thematically on four sectors and two cross-cutting themes: Creative; Data Civics & GovTech; Financial Services & FinTech; Tourism & Festivals; Ethics of Data & AI; and Future Infrastructures. You can read about the centres, networks and activities under these sectors and themes on our website:


Research priorities and strategy

Our strategic research priorities focus on data driven research relevant to our strategic sectors and themes, and aim to expand capacity, consolidate the university’s leadership in data-driven research, and enhance its reach and impact. Our current research strategy is available on our website:

Research support activities and facilities

EFI’s research KPIs reflect our objective to uplift data driven research, and are captured by monitoring and tagging research proposals through a process developed by the Data Driven Innovation office and used by all DDI hubs. This is done on Worktribe through the system’s built-in tagging mechanism, and is intended as a “sticker” that does not detract from school efforts and income.

Practically, our strategic objectives translate to the following activities and mechanisms:

  • Support for research proposals

We give additional capacity to principal investigators and teams developing external research proposals, linking with school research offices, the Edinburgh Research Office, and other specialist colleagues. This can range from coordination support to advice on how to include EFI in research environment statements. To find out more about our support for research projects both at the proposal stage and once they are awarded, see the paper below, and contact us to discuss.


  • Internal funding

We award small grants for pilot projects, events, data skills training, datasets, digital tools, and buy-out or buy-in towards proposal development. Applications are accepted throughout the year and funds must be sent within the current financial year. More information on these funding calls can be found on our website:


  • Space and facilities

Following its renovation, we will move into Edinburgh’s Old Royal Infirmary on Lauriston Place. The building will include fusion teaching facilities, space for co‐working with industry partners, offices and collaboration rooms, maker and data science labs, and exhibition, performance, and café spaces. You can read more and take a virtual tour of the building on our website:


Our core support infrastructure also includes two major initiatives:

  • Centre for Data, Culture and Society

CDCS’s mission is to support, facilitate, promote and inspire data-led and applied digital research across the arts, humanities and social sciences. We offer training and upskilling to allow staff and research students to grow and develop their own approaches to data-rich research. Alongside a varied training programme we host events, run labs, sandpits and hacks to support researchers with computational projects, provide small internal funding, and give specialist one-to-one advice to anyone looking for help with the hands-on application of data and digital-driven techniques. We also have a thriving network of affiliates, associated researchers and communities of practice, which can be leveraged for support.


  • Data + Design Lab

EFI’s Data + Design Lab (D+DL) uses a participatory design approach to facilitate interdisciplinary partnerships and develop data-led projects by forming constellations across experts, students, industry partners, and the wider community. D+DL works across service design, strategic insight, research, and innovation. Our unique method can help with articulating challenges, offering critical and responsible responses to complex challenges, and identifying and moving towards opportunities for change. Our objective is to offer unexpected perspectives on data-driven challenges to navigate complex problems and co-create better futures.


Become an EFI affiliate!

To access the support mechanisms above and stay connected with us, you can become an EFI PGR (for postgraduate students) or research (for staff) affiliate:


Team and contact details
Name Role
Dr Theodor Cojoianu Deputy Research Director
Valentina Guerrieri Senior Research Manager
Anna Votsi Research Proposals Manager
Amy Macpherson Research Administrator

Our Research Director position is currently vacant and will be filled over the coming months.

You can find our contact details in the page below:



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