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 Utah’s reputation for student entrepreneurial experience and financial technology. (Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News)
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SALT LAKE CITY — The University of Utah continued its quest to become the nation’s top public university Monday, announcing a new donor initiative to supercharge Utah’s reputation for student entrepreneurial experience and financial technology — also known as fintech — innovation and education. .
U. In partnership with Stena Foundation, Stena will build the Center for Financial Technology.
“Financial technology is actually the way we all do banking and transactions now,” said Taylor Randall, president of the U. “It can be as simple as the app you use to do your banking. … It can be as complex as the stock trades you go online.”
Stena — led by founders Steve Smith and Jana Smith — has planned up to $65 million in funding over the next 10 years to support the center, including industry-sponsored labs, a start-up incubator, venture funds and financial technology-focused degrees and certificates.
“This breakthrough center, in alignment with its strategic partners, will build on the success of the fintech community in Utah and become a key hub for ongoing financial technology innovation and real economic impact,” said Stena Foundation Chairman Steve Smith. In a publication.
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 to quality education.”
Utah Governor Spencer Cox was on hand Monday to congratulate the U.S. on what he described as an impressive financial technology ecosystem in the Beehive State.
“We’ve seen 18% growth (in financial technology) in the last two years. Two-thirds of all industrial banks in the United States are located here in Utah. That’s impressive, but 92% of industrial bank assets are headquartered here in the state of Utah,” Cox said.
He said the state’s “friendly bank laws and regulations” would continue to support financial endeavors in the state.
Earlier this month, Cox launched the Utah FinTech Advisory Council through the Governor’s Office of Economic Opportunity to support financial technology ventures.
He estimated that 4,100 new financial technology jobs were created with support from the Governor’s Office of Economic Opportunity, which he said he was very proud of.
“I really feel like this is what we’re missing. This is the piece that we really need to anchor the state of fintech as a center of excellence for many years to come,” Cox said. “The announcement you have today will help Utah lead not only nationally, but globally when it comes to expansion and fintech.”
Along with boosting the financial technology sector of Utah’s economy, the new center will also bring together various colleges on 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 probably count on one hand how many times this has happened in the history of our university.”
In anticipation of the new program, the university recently began a minor emphasis in fintech, and plans to launch undergraduate and master’s degree programs in fintech over the next four years.
Ultimately, Randall said he expects reinvestment from venture funds to fund the center in perpetuity.
“We hope this will be one of those unique programs in the entire country,” Rendell said. “It’s going to be rare because of the combination of entrepreneurship, finance, computer science, degrees, industry — all of that coming together in one place with this new center, and we don’t see many of those across the country.”
The center will also continue U’s commitment to student entrepreneurship.
The center’s long list of initiatives includes the launch of FinTechXStudio, where venture capital funds will be made available to qualified student founders working in the financial technology sector.
FinTechXStudio will launch with an annual cohort of 10 student entrepreneurs and businesses working on financial technology innovation. Students will have access to expert faculty, office space, industry mentors, technology solutions partners, curated courses, prototyping tools and technology, venture capital and the university’s global education programs.
Each year, the venture fund will invest a total of at least $1 million in 10 or more student-led fintech companies, with a large portion of the earnings from those 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 technology, startups that need new technology; and students will work in these labs to create new products, and then the new products will be put into our incubators and accelerators to start companies.”
Randall thinks fintechXstudio will be a “great draw” for both students and industry alike, adding that he believes students working alongside companies will be a great way for students to launch their careers.
“The Stena Center will blend Utah’s extensive fintech industry experience with the energy and creativity of U.S. students,” said Ryan Christiansen, executive director of the Stena Center for Financial Technology. “This unique partnership will combine the workforce expertise and experience of financial technology leaders with the passion and ideas of students – accelerating innovation to keep Utah at the forefront of global fintech excellence.”
The center will also host an annual symposium – the FinTech Exchange – focused on financial technology.
“We hope the students educated there are leaders in the field of financial technology, we hope this program has national significance, and we hope you see companies that are driving Utah’s economy and the nation’s economy come out of this. is. center,” Randall said.
People can learn more about the Stena Center for Financial Technology here.