Innovation accelerator to boost small financial firms

Dr Patrick Ring (Glasgow Caledonian University)

SMALL to medium-sized financial services firms in Scotland will be offered greater access to new technology to boost their business, as part of a first-of-its-kind £1.8 million programme to accelerate innovation.

Future Finance 4 All will work closely with smaller firms to understand the challenges they face and explore how technology and innovation can help overcome those issues and increase productivity and competitiveness.

Glasgow Caledonian University is among four universities taking part in the project, which has been funded by Innovate UK and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).

Participating businesses will be in the driving seat to identify the challenges they want help with. These could range from using technology to comply with financial services regulation through to producing innovative products and services that open up new markets.

Dr Patrick Ring, Reader in Financial Services at Glasgow Caledonian, said: “This project illustrates the important role the University plays in working with Scottish businesses, and reflects the civic mission of Glasgow Caledonian and its commitment to the Common Good. It also recognises the role of the Glasgow School for Business and Society as a hub of expertise in financial services.

“Through collaboration between academia, industry, the third sector and other partners, this project presents a real opportunity to support SME innovation within Scotland’s, and the UK’s, financial services sector. In turn, this could boost access and use of financial services, enhancing the kind of financial inclusion that is essential for a modern, thriving economy.”

The two-year programme is being led by the University of Bristol in collaboration with Glasgow Caledonian, the University of Glasgow, the University of the West of England Bristol, the business incubator SETsquared and FinTech West.

To maximise the reach and impact of the project, it will be rolled out in three phases – local, regional and national – and firms that participate in the accelerator will have the opportunity to shape the development of new products and services that they could ultimately take to market and scale for wider societal benefit.

Professor Sharon Collard, Director of the Personal Finance Research Centre at the University of Bristol, added: “Having access to decent financial services is essential for participation in society.

“This is a potential ‘market-making opportunity’ for new financial product and service innovation delivered by smaller firms that could help boost access and use of financial services for the millions of UK consumers – individuals, self-employed people, and SMEs – who remain underserved.”

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