New Fintech Frontier

The Stena Center for Financial Technology will bring a new start-up incubator, venture fund, and more to the U

Everything from the apps we use to do online banking to the algorithms that calculate credit scores use financial technology (fintech). And Utah is developing a reputation as the epicenter of fintech education and innovation.

Now, the U, in partnership with the Stena Foundation, is leading out at the crossroads of fintech education with a new entrepreneurial laboratory—the Stena Center for Financial Technology.

Using $65 million in orchestrated funding assembled over the next 10 years, the center will include industry-sponsored labs, a start-up incubator, venture funds, and fintech-focused degrees and certificates. Reinvestments from the venture funds ultimately are projected to fund the center in perpetuity.

President Taylor Randall HBA’90 says pairing fintech with education is like mixing chocolate and peanut butter—extraordinary. “There is no greater educational experience than starting a new business,” says Randall. “This new center will take an industry that is ripe for disruption and innovation, combine it with the research and passion of our faculty and students on campus, and create a whole new level of financial technology ecosystem in the state of Utah.”

Center initiatives will launch this fall with an incubator—the fintechXstudio—and venture capital funds will be made available to 10 to 12 qualifying founders working in fintech. Each of their start-up companies could receive as much as $100,000 in venture capital to get off the ground. Eventually, investment returns from those start-ups will be reinvested in the incubator, funding the center.

“We want to invest in an ecosystem—something that’s perpetuating and building on itself,” says Steve Smith BS’93, former chairman, CEO, and co-founder of Finicity and co-founder of the Stena Foundation. 

Led by executive director Ryan Christiansen, the center will collaborate with academic units on campus to develop programs and degrees. The first three university colleges involved will be the David Eccles School of Business, the John and Marcia Price College of Engineering, and the S.J. Quinney College of Law, along with the President’s Office. The university already offers fintech study options, including a minor emphasis in fintech. Over the next four years, the U will begin offering undergraduate and master’s degrees in the field.

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