FinTech & the Leeds City Region

Ahead of the Fintech North ‘Banks, Building Societies & FinTech’ event on Friday (21 June) Chelsea Hardy, Engagement Manager at Nexus reflects on Leeds FinTech Day and the fantastic opportunities Leeds offers.

Warm, friendly, open, welcoming – you could be forgiven for thinking we were reviewing one of Leeds’ latest restaurants.

But no, these were the words – and one of the key themes – of our illustrious panel at Leeds FinTech Day hosted by Nexus.

Leveraging Leeds’ position as the second biggest financial centre in the UK and the North of England’s host of excellent FinTech providers and initiatives, our speakers and audience agreed that we excel at creating the right environments to encourage truly creative collaborative working.

Nexus is of course one of those great collaborative environments and was the perfect venue for a great debate on bridging the gap between business and academia.

Chris Sier, HM Treasury FinTech Envoy and Chairman of FinTech North highlighted the role that universities play, providing skilled people, training, research and a platform or place and added:

“Our instinct in the North is to be open and collaborative, creating friendly working environments. We’re building bilateral relationships outside of London and with the rest of Europe.”

Georgina Mitchell, who is non-executive Director and adviser to a number of FinTech companies, praised the work of the Leeds University Business School in teaching business models and problem solving, and said success in the sector would only be guaranteed if we put consumers first and ensured they actually wanted the product or service that we’re excited about.

Chelsea Hardy, Engagement Manager - Nexus chairs the panel at Leeds FinTech Day

From the audience, Iain Clacher, Director of The Centre for Financial Technology and Innovation at Leeds University Business School, referred to the value of mentoring future talent in the FinTech sector and spoke about SPARK, the University of Leeds’ business start-up service. Nexus has just welcomed 30 entrepreneurial students and alumni to our community, giving them direct access to the University’s world-leading academic and research expertise. Again, co-working and collaborative environments are essential to the mix.

We were also really excited to hear from John Smith, Director of Student Education at Leeds University Business School about the new MSc in Financial Technology – a part-time Masters Degree and the first in the UK.

Drawing on expertise from the Business School and across the University, from the Schools of Computing, Mathematics, Law and the Interdisciplinary Ethics Applied Centre, the new MSc adds to a strong portfolio of FinTech learning and business execution here in Leeds and the wider region.

Nexus FinTech Day was also privileged to hear from Felix Irresburger, Associate Professor in Financial Technology at Leeds University Business School and Nick Edgar, Senior Director of Growth Finance at CYBG.

We also enjoyed insightful presentations from Dan Rajkumar, a former student of the University of Leeds and now MD of White Label Crowd Funding; Andy Thompson, General Manager Europe for Sandstone Technology; Kevin Duffy, Partnerships Relationships Manager with The Chartered Banker Institute and Shan Ahmed, co-founder of Leeds property crowdfunding start-up UOWN.

I’m looking forward to hearing more discussions this week (Friday, 21 June) when Nexus hosts FinTech North who will be looking at the impact of FinTech on banks and building societies.

It’s great to see collaborative events like this taking place across the region, generating some great debate and insights for the FinTech and wider business community, in a city that is fast becoming the FinTech hub for the UK.