National Robotarium Appoints First CEO in Major Milestone for UK’s Tech Future

A major milestone in the development of the UK’s tech economy has been reached with the appointment of the National Robotarium’s first CEO. The National Robotarium will catalyse innovation and talent development in Robotics and AI. 

Stewart Miller, CEO of the National Robotarium, with 'Spot' robots. Image Credit: National Robotarium

Stewart Miller is well suited to lead this initiative, a distinguished business leader with a wealth of experience in technology development in the aerospace sector. As CEO he will build the National Robotarium into a globally recognised centre of excellence for AI and Robotics, working directly with business to accelerate innovation and drive value from world class research, create talent of the future through a flexible skills programme and support entrepreneurs capable of creating exciting new businesses to fuel our economy. 

Stewart takes up his position having been chief technology officer of the UK Government’s innovation agency, Innovate UK. Originally from Glasgow but now living in East Lothian, he previously worked in senior roles at major firms including Leonardo and BAE Systems.

The National Robotarium, a partnership between Heriot-Watt University and the University of Edinburgh, is one of 5 innovation hubs supported by the £1.3 billion Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal - a 15 year investment programme funded by both governments and regional partners.

His appointment comes as the UK Government’s Innovation Strategy identifies Robotics and AI as two critical ‘technologies of the future’ which will help to transform society and fuel economic growth over the next decade, with the market for Robotics and Autonomous Systems alone forecast to reach almost £3.5 billion by 2030. The development of the National Robotarium will help to grow the UK’s existing advantages in this field and position Scotland as a world leading centre for innovation and entrepreneurship in line with the Scottish Government’s National Performance Framework.

Construction of a world-leading research facility for robotics and artificial intelligence, which will be one of the largest and most advanced of its type in the UK, is well underway and is set to open in the Scottish capital in the spring of next year. 

National Robotarium research projects are already well established. Last year, scientists launched the world’s first remote access assisted living lab to research and create smart technology solutions for the most vulnerable in our communities. ​​Work in hazardous environments research is also gathering pace with projects ranging from self-building robotic scaffolding to aid nuclear decommissioning and disaster recovery to the use of SPOT robots, created by US-based company Boston Dynamics, which will be deployed on construction sites to improve safety and efficiency.

Stewart Miller, chief executive officer of the National Robotarium, said:

“It’s a huge honour to take up this role, helping set the direction of the National Robotarium which has enormous potential to transform lives. The opportunity is to bring together the needs of businesses and society and the emerging technology solutions from research at the UKs leading universities.

“As someone who has been working in technology for 40 years, leading a facility that is tackling some of the world’s biggest challenges using Robotics and AI is incredibly exciting. It is clear to me that this role presents an extraordinary opportunity to build productive global partnerships, creating economic, environmental and societal benefits. I look forward to working with research teams, students, and partners across industries and governments as we grow the National Robotarium’s influence and impact.”

Professor Richard A Williams, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of Heriot-Watt University, said:

“The appointment of an outstanding CEO underpins the ambition for the National Robotarium to accelerate digital and AI driven skills to serve society in a positive way and to create new businesses and jobs for Scotland and address global opportunities. Stewart’s appointment is a significant moment as we drive forward our collective research and education strengths to lead innovation in this area and to ensure, working with partners, we catalyse the talent pipeline needed to serve this fast-growing sector. A massive opportunity for Scotland.”

UK Government Minister Iain Stewart said:

"Congratulations to Stewart Miller on his appointment to head up the exciting work at the National Robotarium.

"The UK is investing £21 million for cutting-edge facilities at the Robotarium as part of the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal, bringing jobs, opportunities and businesses to the region and helping to make it a global data capital. 

"We are investing more than £1.5 billion in region deals across Scotland, and helping communities to build back better after the pandemic."

Finance and Economy Secretary Kate Forbes said:

“I offer my warmest congratulations to Stewart Miller on being appointed to this exciting role. His extensive experience of both the public and private sectors will be a real asset to the National Robotarium, and have a direct impact on our world-leading manufacturing industries.

“This is a crucial time for business, trade and investment in Scotland. City Region and Growth Deals have a key role to play in our economic recovery from the pandemic as we work towards a fairer and more inclusive Scotland. Our investment in the National Robotarium is part of our £300 million commitment to the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal, which will help to build a future economy that benefits everyone.”

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