$14 million gifted to USF for financial technology initiative

A $14 million gift to the University of South Florida may bring new companies and jobs in financial technology – aka fintech – to the Bay Area. Leaders at the school say the gift is "transformational."

"I think we’re right on that cutting edge of new technology that will bring high wages for our students for years to come," said St. Petersburg Mayor Ken Welch following the announcement of the $14 million gift.

The money, which was donated by philanthropists Kate Tiedemann and Ellen Cotton, is designated for the establishment of fintech hubs for students at the St. Pete, Tampa, and Sarasota-Manatee campuses, as well as nearby businesses.

Fintech encompasses everything from blockchain to mobile payments to online investing, according to Moez Limayem, the dean of the USF Muma College of Business. He says technology is transforming finance and USF will stay on the cutting edge. 

Kate Tiedemann and Ellen Cotton

"We are the talent pipeline, we are the educators, and then we are the ones that coordinate the businesses that are coming to our community, to help get the workforce," said USF president Rhea Law. 

There are more than a dozen financial technology business startups in St. Petersburg, and big firms have been relocating to the city for a few years.

Mayor Welch says in his lifetime, St. Pete has transformed from a sleepy little beach and retirement town a major innovation hub.

USF is also establishing a fintech accelerator where 16 new companies will get 90 days of intense guidance to help get their ventures off the ground.