Cisco has announced a partnership with the University of Edinburgh to collaborate on opportunities in AI and data-driven innovation, a key pillar of the recently announced Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal.

As the first initiative in the partnership, Cisco has committed to support 20 startups through the University and Wayra UK’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Blockchain Accelerator. Over a three-year period, Cisco will provide business development and technical support, mentoring and access to tools for resident startups.

Based at the university’s Bayes Centre and designed to accelerate the best AI and blockchain startups in Europe to scale globally, the programme is already home to the first cohort of 10 startups.

Tony Gribben, country manager, Cisco Scotland, said: “The insight that we can gain from data opens up amazing opportunity for all industries – not least with its application in the field of AI.

“We’re delighted to be working with the University of Edinburgh to bring this to life in Scotland. The ambition to drive economic and inclusive growth for the region is something that we very much support, and we look forward to continuing to partner with industry, government and academia on initiatives towards that goal.”

Jim Ashe, director of commercialisation and industry engagement, University of Edinburgh, said: “Cisco is a valued partner within the Bayes Innovation Programme.

“As well as becoming a key supporter of our flagship AI and Blockchain Accelerator programme, the recent signing of a Memorandum of Understanding underscores our intention to work together more collaboratively across all areas of data-driven innovation.

“We look forward to collaborating with Cisco’s Networking Academy, research centre and wider innovation and investment teams on projects that will support innovative research, accelerate data adoption and fuel entrepreneurship across a wide range of initiatives.”

Launched in August 2018 as a £1.3bn investment, the City Region Deal aims to help Edinburgh and South East Scotland accelerate growth and create economic opportunities and new jobs to drive inclusive growth. The City Region Deal’s Data-Driven Innovation component has five focus areas: talent, research, adoption, data and entrepreneurship, and will be led by the University of Edinburgh in partnership with Heriot-Watt University.