Webinar recording: Effective university-business engagement

17th September 2020

Part of the Aspect Annual Event 2020 webinar series, this session – FinTech: A good practice example of effective university-business engagement, which took place on the 17th September – explored what good looks like with regards to engagement between universities and businesses, with a focus on FinTech.

You can find the full recording of the webinar, and other resources from the session, below.

Webinar recording

Panel members

  • Dr Ruth Welters – Business Engagement Coordinator, University of Bristol
  • Professor Jon Beaverstock – Professor of International Management, University of Bristol
  • Stuart Harrison – Founder and Co-Director, FinTech West

Session highlights


Session summary

By Dr Ruth Welters, Business Engagement Co-ordinator, Faculty of Social Sciences and Law, University of Bristol.

What is fintech, why is it important and how can fintech be a good practice example for university-business engagement? 

It was a delight to explore these and other questions with the participants in this Aspect workshop and with our two panel members; Jon Beaverstock, Professor of International Management in the Faculty Social Sciences and Law at the University of Bristol and Stuart Harrison, the founder and co-director of FinTech West.  

FinTech West is the representative body for fintech in the West and South West of England. Stuart kicked off the session with some reflections on his many years of engaging with universities. Many of the opportunities and frustrations he spoke of were very much related to any smaller organisation trying to find a way into a larger, more established organisation. Stuart spoke of his own tenacity in making connections; use of physical networking spaces and the importance of finding that one key person. 

Since starting at Bristol University, my opportunities for networking directly with companies has been a bit reduced due to COVID-19, so I wanted to get a feel for the sorts of companies and types of people involved in fintech. 

Both Stuart and Jon spoke of many fintechs being start-up companies, run by innovators and disruptors; dynamic people who want to move fast, and get a fast response from universities.  

As an academic, Jon spoke about his own motivations for engaging with business and the importance of putting companies at the centre of the research process; to gain insight and seek knowledge from both parties at the outset. The success of the endeavour is to build trust and build long-term relationships.  

Stepping back a bit, why focus on the fintech sector, out of all the many opportunities for business and universities to work together?  

The session highlighted for me the opportunities for business and universities around fintech that benefit individuals…but also the whole region.  

Jon talked about the importance of fintech in developing the local labour market; upskilling and increasing the competencies in next-generation professional services…in order to help any region to be competitive with London when it comes to maintaining talent and resources.  

Given the aspirations of the Industrial Strategy and the Strength in Places agenda, Jon emphasised the role of fintech in wealth creation and as a driver for economic growth in a region, and also stressed that fintech can help take forward inclusive social enterprise and so is important for inclusive growth. 

This Aspect workshop was really just the start in exploring how fintech can be a good practice example for university-business engagement and I think the conversation could have gone on for more than an hour! You can listen to more of the panel’s thoughts direct in the recording (see above).  

A new fintech project on the horizon

We now have a new project that is starting to delve further into fintech.  

Jon and Stuart will be putting their combined experience of effective university-business collaboration into practice this autumn in a new collaboration funded by an ESRC Impact Accelerator Award. The project will draw on knowledge from the City of London and apply this to the Bristol-Bath region, in South West England, to inform the future sustainability of the regional fintech system.

Thanks to everyone from both business and universities who joined the workshop and made it so much more engaging for us all, by contributing your questions to the panel and networking with the other participants.  

For more information get in touch with Dr Ruth Welters: ruth.welters@bristol.ac.uk or 07791 520750.  

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