Enterprise Trade and Investment Minister Jonathan Bell and Employment and Learning Minister Dr Stephen Farry today officially opened the new CME Group Financial Innovation Laboratory at Ulster University.
The laboratory, resulting from a strategic partnership between the Ulster University Business School, CME Group Foundation (the charitable arm of the CME Group) and Invest Northern Ireland, will house the most technologically advanced software to provide students and visitors with hands-on experience of a dynamic trading environment, comparable to an investment bank.
The total cost of the project is £237,000. CME Group Foundation will donate US$175,000 over two years and Invest Northern Ireland has offered assistance of £30,000 to the project over a three year period.
Welcoming the new financial innovation laboratory Jonathan Bell said: “The establishment of the CME Group Financial Innovation Laboratory is a very positive announcement for the Ulster University Business School and for Northern Ireland’s fintech sector.
“Focusing on real world financial technology, the laboratory will provide students with exposure to state of the art financial software and give them access to the expertise of leading industry, which will help to produce graduates with high level analytical skills. This will be extremely valuable to the sector as a whole.
“The new laboratory is an excellent example of how universities, government and the private sector can work together to develop solutions that will meet the future needs of our existing businesses and potential investors.”
Dr Stephen Farry said: “The launch of the CME Group Financial Innovation Laboratory is an excellent example of collaboration between business, academia and government to meet the future skills requirements of our local economy. I commend Ulster University Business School, CME Group Foundation and Invest NI on their considerable contribution to the development of the laboratory.
“The ‘fintech’ sector is key to the continued growth of our economy and I will continue to ensure the skills needs of the sector are met. My Department has recently launched a Financial Services Academy through the Assured Skills initiative and the Ulster University Business School’s new Laboratory will be central to the delivery of the Academy training programme.”
The Ulster University Business School has been developing links and working alongside CME Group since its establishment in Belfast in 2012. With its focus on financial related technology CME Group experts have provided invaluable advice and guidance on the set-up of the new laboratory. In parallel the CME Group Foundation, which shares a strong community ethos with the Business School with a particular interest in helping students to prepare for careers in financial services industries, has provided significant investment to create, support and progress the facility.
Jim Oliff, CME Group Foundation Chairman, said: “We are very pleased to make CME Group Foundation’s first grant outside of the United States to support the establishment and operation of a Financial Innovation Lab and Financial Services Academy with the Ulster University Business School. Innovation is a hallmark of CME Group Foundation, and this initiative will help educate the next generation of innovative youth in Belfast to prepare them to join the global financial services industry.”
Alison Hamilton, Head of CME Group’s Belfast office, said: “This partnership is the latest example of CME Group’s commitment to the local community and helps address a critical need for sustainable economic opportunities in Northern Ireland. CME Group is an active employer in Belfast. Through this Academy, we look forward to helping equip participants with a recognisable qualification outside of their current skillset, thereby continuing to develop local talent.”
Professor Paddy Nixon, Vice Chancellor of Ulster University said: “CME Group is an influential international presence in the financial services sector. Its role in this new centre and partnership with Ulster University is an endorsement of our commitment to the development of industry ready skills that deliver mutual benefits to students and a rapidly growing global industry.”