The Foundation was established by the RSE in 1996 and is a separate, but connected charity. Its charitable purpose is to advance the education of the public in Scotland in science, engineering and technology, and in furtherance thereof:
To research and explore developing areas of learning and human knowledge and to disseminate by whatever means the results of such research, particularly in Scotland.
To promote the greater public understanding of all sciences, engineering and technology and their part in increasing the wealth and quality of life of the people of Scotland
To encourage, for the benefit of the people of Scotland, collaboration between the academic and business communities in Scotland
To preserve and conserve the architectural, scientific and cultural heritage of Scotland and to collect, for the purposes of preservation, conservation and exhibition, writings, instruments, artifacts, specimens of natural history and any other material which, in the opinion of the Trustees relates to the cultural and scientific heritage of Scotland.
To call upon the broad intellectual resources of the Fellowship of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and such other Societies and organisations as appropriate in the promotion of the foregoing purposes.
The Foundation normally meets three times each year to discharge the above duties. Foundation members can be required to sit on sub-Committees established by the Foundation. The Foundation Convener also represents the Foundation on the RSE Executive Committee and the joint Audit and Risk Committee.