IFGS: Karen Elliott talks about funding within the UKFin+ Network

IFGS: Karen Elliott talks about funding within the UKFin+ Network

Putting the UKFin+ Network on a learning pedestal

Elliott calls to increase demand. She says, “The UKFin+ Network is not the usual research project from a university… This is actually us saying: you design and co-create a FS/fintech R&D project with an academic of your choice across the UK (a subject you want to ), [and then] submit the proposal for a funding bid via the network, and we can finance projects.”

UKFin+ is a completely different approach to research and the only funded academic network in the UK, the first of its kind to be funded by the Research Councils. The project is led from Birmingham with Professor Aad van Moorsel, together with partners at Edinburgh University (Professor John Vines), Imperial College London (Professor Will Knottenbelt) and Cardiff University (Professor Jing C) in Wales.

Regarding the future expansion of fundraising in finance, she stated that; “It is a recognition that working in a business school like myself requires collaboration across different disciplines, for example my connection with computer science, we need to have that synergy between computing and business skills to work in FS and FinTech going forward.”

“Working across the socio-technical space means we can co-create and gain more industry insight into what the real problems are, rather than coming up with theoretical concepts to test.”

“I see it as a way of facilitating the transfer of knowledge between theory and practice, because one lacks something without the other, especially when we have challenges around finances; The Covid crisis, Brexit, and now we are experiencing the cost of living crisis.”

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“I know that many fintechs want to operate [the message]; How can we best use technology to benefit people, but to be effective using the latest digital technologies?”

One of her visions as co-director of the MSc degree in FinTech at the University of Birmingham is to also cover topics relevant within the industry itself, outside the academic sphere, and merge the two within the curriculum.

“We are having the first in a series of annual FinTech Open Days at the University of Birmingham – in partnership with Supe Tech West Midlands. Working with Hilary Smith-Allen, we have secured local FinTechs to come into the University to showcase what is at the forefront of fintech in action. This will also help to retain students in the Birmingham area – and we retain that talent pool in the region, but the building of talent flows into the whole of the UK FinTech scene.”

“The whole emphasis on FinTech [is] to make finance do better things”

Elliott says that with next-generation talent, “what we need to do is connect knowledge, theory and practice in a way that works for both sides (industry and academia).”

She has worked with Daniel Gold at Stratiphy and with the money awarded by Innovate UK, her students will work with Gold to develop new technology to look at different ways of doing wealth portfolio management. Instead of being primarily aimed at the wealthy, it will focus on people who have “smaller pots of money”.

“When you engage in industry outside of university and actually go; “Okay, what are the most important problems we have in the industry?” And when you get back into the university environment, start reflecting on how we’re going to address the issues, and have a real conversation about how we can change to educate in line with the expectations driven by continued digital transformation, results are emerging.”

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“Sometimes FinTech services can explode with the current levels of technological change … but at least we can get industries involved and start discussing with our students and address how we can adapt learning to adapt to change. We already have successful co-created placements at the University of Birmingham to help our students be industry-ready for the FinTech sector.”

“Continuing to engage in this form of synergy will help FinTech gradually make finance and access to finance better for everyone.”

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