Hearts football club has established an innovation centre to help improve the digital skills base of the local community.

The club’s new digital outreach programme is designed to help young people in less affluent to develop key coding skills.

Marty the Robot was unveiled as the new ‘signing’ who will be key to the success of the centre, which will be based at the recently redeveloped Tynecastle Park.

Robotical, the Edinburgh-based educational technology company has officially partnered with Hearts in order to provide Robotics workshops and a Robotics Club to play a key role within the Digital Education Programmes being rolled out by the football club to young members of the surrounding community.

The Innovation Centre, which is sponsored by Baillie Gifford, aims to promote community cohesion by helping people and businesses develop important skills. It is hoped that it will play an important role in helping to improve the national skills shortage and regenerate the local area.

Hearts ‘Director of Community and Partnerships, Ann Park, commented: “The Innovation Centre is a key component in our plans to make Tynecastle Park a hub for social and economic good in the community. Thanks to the support of Robotical, we are offering young people fantastic opportunities to develop coding and robotics skills for the future. 

This is the kind of constructive and far sighted sponsorship that Scottish football needs. Our partnership demonstrates clearly the way in which football and the magnet of the Club can be a real force for good in the community.”

Hearts’ CEO and Chairman Ann Budge said: “I know from personal experience just how important it is for young people, particularly those in less affluent areas, to be given opportunities to develop and acquire valuable skills.  I hope that our Innovation Centre might help unearth the next generation of successful entrepreneurs as well as a legion of recruits for Scotland’s digital economy. Marty the Robot has already demonstrated the characteristics and personality that will ensure this signing is a hit with players, supporters and all members of the community.”

Hattie Chandler, Strategic Programme Manager at Hearts FC, said: “Hearts are delighted to be working with Robotical. We were keen to do something unique as part of our digital education outreach programme and allowing young people to program their own football-playing robot certainly means we are providing something innovative. Marty the Robot definitely merits a spot on my team.”

Tanya Howden, Robotical’s Learning Experience Designer, said: “It has been so rewarding to watch the students’ confidence grow each week as they come along to the Robotics Club and try something new. I love seeing the looks on their faces when they run their code and see Marty moving for the first time. The excitement in the room is contagious.”

Dr Sandy Enoch, founder of Robotical and inventor of Marty the Robot, said: “I created Marty to inspire the next generation of roboticists and engineers. Having Marty the Robot as part of the Innovation Hub at Tynecastle introduces him to a brand new audience. I’m looking forward to seeing more young roboticists develop as a result.”