SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Western New England University (WNE) has been awarded a $1.37 million grant from the Healey-Driscoll Administration and MassTech to launch a new FinTech Incubator, aimed at driving innovation in financial technology (fintech).
This initiative will provide significant support for startups statewide, create a platform for research, and generate new workforce development opportunities in the Pioneer Valley.
The two-year, $2.125 million project will establish the Springfield-based FinTech Incubator as a vital resource for fintech startups across Massachusetts, with an initial emphasis on those located in western Mass.
The state grant, part of the Technology & Innovation Ecosystem Awards program launched in 2022 and administered by MassTech, will enable WNE to fund new on-campus computing infrastructure for hands-on learning experiences, facilitate collaboration between faculty, students, and private sector companies, and address real-world challenges in the financial sector.
Governor Maura Healey expressed her commitment to strengthening Massachusetts’ competitive position in the financial services and technology sectors,
Lieutenant Governor Kim Driscoll, co-chair of the Mass. STEM Council, emphasized the significance of the Pioneer Valley in talent development for the entire state and the importance of investing in centers like the FinTech Incubator to maintain competitiveness in the fintech sector and retain talented students.
The management of the Incubator will be entrusted to a team of WNE faculty members with extensive experience in the fintech space.
Their expertise will enable the achievement of various goals, including establishing the Incubator as an affordable option for fintech services, collaborating with businesses and non-profits on fintech projects, assisting fintech start-ups in establishing their businesses in Massachusetts; Increasing the number of graduates prepared for fintech careers through enhanced coursework and experiential learning, raising fintech awareness in the existing workforce through professional development courses and certificates, and organizing an annual FinTech Innovation Programming session across the state.
Dr. Robert E. Johnson, President of WNE, expressed his excitement about offering an affordable, state-of-the-art resource in the region that supports entrepreneurs and existing businesses in developing AI-driven fintech solutions. He highlighted the role of the FinTech Incubator in providing training opportunities for students and current finance-related employees, contributing to the future of work.
Economic Development Secretary Yvonne Hao underscored the significance of the FinTech Incubator as a catalyst for new product launches by providing opportunities for entrepreneurs and established companies. She described it as a win-win situation that benefits both the financial sector partners and students seeking high-quality fintech training.
WNE has formed partnerships with various organizations to build a strong client portfolio and create a feeder system for the Incubator. M. Scott Investment Services of East Longmeadow will collaborate with the Incubator to develop an AI-driven investment portfolio management system. Additionally, investor groups including Alchemy Fund, Golden Seeds, Mass Mutual, River Valley Investors, and Long River Investors will work towards diversifying the client portfolio across multiple sectors.
Local economic development and small business organizations such as Valley Venture Mentors, Western Mass Economic Development, Massachusetts Small Business Development Center, SBA/Score, and local chambers of commerce will contribute to the feeder system. Existing client portfolio development pathways will be established through partnerships with the Springfield Leadership Institute, WNE’s College of Business Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, and the WNE ‘Meet the Firms’ program.
Michael S. Poggi, President of M. Scott Investment Services, hailed the establishment of the FinTech Incubator as a historic moment for WNE and western Massachusetts. He emphasized that the Incubator’s resources would retain local talent, attract businesses to the region, and provide opportunities for students, researchers, innovators, and business owners.
Pat Larkin, Director of the Innovation Institute at MassTech, commended WNE’s vision for the FinTech Incubator and highlighted the strong partnerships and expertise within the proposal. The Tech & Innovation grant program aims to identify projects that quickly lead to economic benefits, supporting business development and hands-on training.
Massachusetts has prioritized fintech as a strategic sector within its technology ecosystem. A state-sponsored research study conducted by Ernst & Young LLP in October 2020 revealed that over 350 fintech companies were headquartered in Massachusetts, positioning the state among leading fintech hubs worldwide. The Mass Fintech Hub, a partnership aimed at establishing Massachusetts as the world’s leading fintech hub, and ongoing education sessions promoting angel investment in fintech are examples of the state’s support for fintech development.
The Technology & Innovation Ecosystem program aims to advance technology and innovation sector projects that contribute to the state’s competitive advantage, driving job growth, business expansion, workforce development, and the emergence of new tech and innovation firms.
This grant to WNE’s FinTech Incubator follows the earlier announcement of a grant to a Quincy-based Blockchain project managed by QUBIC Labs. The grant program is funded through the Scientific and Technology Research and Development Matching Grant Fund and was launched in February 2022.