University of Utah President Taylor Randall and Stena Foundation founder Steve Smith spoke about the new Stena Center for Financial Technology, at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Monday. The new donor initiative aims to supercharge the student entrepreneurial experience and Utah’s reputation for financial technology. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)
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SALT LAKE CITY – The University of Utah on Monday continued its quest to become a top public university in the nation, announcing a new donor initiative intended to enhance the student entrepreneurship experience and reputation. of Utah for financial technology – also known as fintech – innovation and education.
The U. will collaborate with the Stena Foundation, which will create the Stena Center for Financial Technology.
“Financial technology is essentially the way we all do banking and transactions today,” said U. President Taylor Randall. “It can be as simple as the app you use to do your banking. … It can be as complex as you getting online and doing stock trades.”
Stena – led by founders Steve Smith and Jana Smith – has orchestrated funding of up to $65 million over the next 10 years to support the centre, including industry-sponsored labs, a start-up incubators, venture funds and financial technology oriented degrees and certificates.
“This progressive center, aligned with its strategic partners, will build on the success of Utah’s fintech community and become a major hub for continued financial technology innovation and real economic impact,” said said Steve Smith, chairman of the Stena Foundation, in a release.
Smith is the current co-chairman of the Financial Data Exchange. He and his wife Jana Smith founded the Salt Lake City-based Stena Foundation as a way to “strengthen economic prosperity through the fundamental building blocks of increased financial inclusion and access.” of quality education,” according to a release from the university.
Utah Gov. Spencer Cox was on hand Monday to congratulate the U. on adding to what he described as an impressive financial technology ecosystem in the Beehive State.
“We’ve seen 18% growth in the last two years (in financial technology). Two-thirds of all the industrial banks in the United States are located right here in Utah. That’s amazing, but 92% of the industrial bank assets are headquartered right here in the state of Utah,” Cox said.
He said the state’s “bank-friendly laws and regulations” will continue to support the state’s financial efforts.
Earlier this month, Cox launched the Utah fintech advisory council through the Governor’s Office of Economic Opportunity to support financial technology ventures.
He estimates that 4,100 new financial technology jobs have been created with help from the Governor’s Office of Economic Opportunity, something he says he’s proud of.
“I really feel like this is what we’ve been missing. This is the piece that we need to anchor us as a center of excellence as a state for fintech for years to come,” Cox said. “The announcement you have here today will help Utah lead not only nationally, but globally when it comes to expansion and fintech.”
Along with strengthening the financial technology sector of the Utah economy, the new center will also bring together a variety of different colleges across the U. campus to develop programs and degrees for students.
The colleges involved include the David Eccles School of Business, the John and Marcia Price College of Engineering, and the SJ Quinney College of Law, as well as the President’s Office.
Bringing these colleges together, Randall said, “is novel – we can count on one hand how many times that has happened in the history of our university.”
In anticipation of the new program, the university recently began offering a small emphasis on fintech, and in the next four years it plans to launch undergraduate and master’s degree programs in fintech.
Ultimately, Randall said he expects reinvestments from venture funds to continue funding the center.
“We hope this will be one of the most unique programs in the entire country,” Randall said. “It’s rare because of the combination of entrepreneurship, finance, computer science, degree, industry – all of that comes together in one place with the new center, and we don’t see many around the country.”
The center will also continue the U.’s commitment to student entrepreneurship.
Included in the long list of the center’s initiatives is the launch of fintechXstudio, where venture capital funds will be available to qualified student founders working in the field of financial technology.
fintechXstudio will start with an annual group of 10 student entrepreneurs and businesses working on financial technology innovation. Students have access to expert faculty, office space, industry mentors, technology solutions partners, curated courses, prototyping tools and technology, venture capital and global education programs at the university, according to a release from the university.
Each year, the venture fund invests a total of at least $1 million in 10 or more student-led fintech companies, with a significant portion of the proceeds from the investments reinvested in the center. .
“We see an insatiable appetite for student innovation at the university, so this will expand our capacity,” Randall said. “Industry will bring ideas. Banks that need new technologies, startups that need new technologies; and students will work in these labs to create new products and then the new products will be placed in our incubator and accelerator to start companies.
Randall thinks fintechXstudio will be a “great draw” for students and industry, adding that he believes students working with companies will be a great way for students to launch careers for themselves.
“The Stena Center will combine the vast experience of Utah’s fintech industry with the energy and creativity of U students,” said Ryan Christiansen, executive director of the Stena Center for Financial Technology, in a release. “This unique partnership will connect the workforce skills and experience of financial technology leaders with the passion and ideas of students – accelerating innovation to put Utah at the forefront of global fintech excellence.”
The center will also host an annual symposium – the fintechXchange – focused on financial technology.
“We hope that the students educated there will be leaders in the field of financial technology, we hope that the program will have national prominence, and we hope that you will see companies driving the economy of Utah and the economy of country it comes from. center,” said Randall.
People can learn more about the Stena Center for Financial Technology here.