UKFin+ Collaboration Workshop in Bristol

Bridging the gap between academia and industry

Posted by Beining Han, Jizong Wang, Gabriela Filipkowska, Fan Wu on March 25, 2024 · 4 mins read

On March 6th, our team, undertook a journey into the heart of Bristol to M Shed, a vibrant museum that carries history of the city. And there, we spent a great day diving into the exciting UKFin+ Collaboration workshop that fosters collaboration between academia, industry, and charitable organizations to tackle urgent FinTech challenges.

First, Prof. Jing (Maggie) Chen who is the Director of UKFin+, the national Fintech network funded by EPSRC, kicked off the workshop with posing real-life challenges across three pivotal themes: personal finance/wealth management, payments, lending and insurance, and financial inclusion. Then, the project manager of UKFin+, Sheena Robertson, introduced fantastic UKFin+ funding opportunities as the enabler.

A person presenting in front of an audience

Dr John Cartlidge from the University of Bristol and Stuart Harrison of FinTech West are the local co-hosts. They shared much information on the local challenges, initiatives and achievement in the Southwest region. It is very clear that the UKFin+ funding opportunities are pivotal in further encouraging the regional Fintech eco-system development. Our team from Cardiff was also drawn by the promise of innovative collaboration and knowledge exchange.

A person presenting next to a screen

The workshop enabled speakers representing a wide range of organisations to share the challenges they face, prompting later debates and insights from both sides. To summarise, Matthew Jones from Nationwide delved into the intricacies and challenges of GenAI and large language models, Andy Dyer from LexisNexis unravelled the complexities of financial inclusion through credit scores, and Maria Berryman from Babbasa laid bare the challenges faced by community interest companies. These presentations were a testament to the workshop's role as a crucible for innovative problem-solving.

Another opportunity to speak up was the 'open mic' session. It created a forum for companies to share their hurdles and encourage meaningful dialogues on collaboration, echoing the core aim of the workshop.

After hearing about the challenges, we joined the subsequent roundtable discussions focused on the collective quest for solutions in AI management, open financing access, development of alternative credit metrics, and the promotion of free financial education.

Beining Han and Fan Wu, discussed with banks’ representatives the prospect of using network analysis and machine learning methods to examine transaction records to help banks better understand customer preferences. Meanwhile, drawn by a potential for a blockchain-perspective input, Gabriela Filipkowska joined the table focusing on the topic of alternative credit metrics that would allow more inclusivity in the financial world. There were various metrics discussed, rental etc., and involved different degrees of privacy that could depend on a person’s willingness to share, which highlighted the importance of a secure system for assessing and storing such information.

As participants, our team found the workshop not only informative but profoundly inspiring. For example, Jizong Wang, who is a Financial Mathematics PhD student at Cardiff University, reflected on the event as it is truly inspiring about the gathering of esteemed academics and industry experts alike to solve the real problems. The chance to engage directly with pioneers and to be at the forefront of potential groundbreaking collaborations was a rare privilege. The workshop was a vivid reminder of the power of collective endeavour in steering the FinTech industry towards a more inclusive and innovative future.

We extend our gratitude to the organisers and attendees for bringing us with insightful conversations and invaluable connections from diverse professional backgrounds. We look forward to seeing these conversations develop into meaningful projects and collaborations. We also hope to hold conversations that will enable us to go forward in the ever-evolving FinTech landscape.