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Scotiabank has pledged $3-million over 10 years to the Ivey Business School so it can set up a digital banking lab.Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

The Globe's biweekly business-school news roundup.

The digital economy is changing how, when and significantly, with whom, customers do their banking in an increasingly online environment.

To that end, Bank of Nova Scotia pledged $3-million over 10 years to the Ivey Business School at the University of Western Ontario on Thursday to expand its research on digital upheaval in the financial sector, and offer new student internships and field study opportunities. They will also jointly sponsor future conferences and other events on the theme of digital change.

"Our digital transformation is one of the most critical things we are working on," says Randy Lyons, senior vice-president of enterprise strategy for Scotiabank, of the impetus to deepen ties with educational institutions, including Ivey. He adds: "Partnering with universities and business schools gives us access to innovative thinking, deep research and a talent pool [of graduates]."

Non-bank competitors, such as startup companies eager to deliver online financial services more efficiently than traditional financial institutions, are potential rivals and partners, says Mr. Lyons, with banks like his looking to tap the latest research and the brightest graduates to help define the future of online banking.

Ivey dean Robert Kennedy said funding for the new Scotiabank Digital Banking Lab announced this week marks a shift in funding focus by the bank, a long-time donor to the school. Instead of contributing to scholarships, as in the past, the bank is developing a more active relationship that includes support for research by Ivey professors already examining the impact of the digital revolution in banking and other sectors.

As well, the bank's support for internships and other work experience opportunities means that Ivey undergraduates and graduates would have access to bank officials on an issue of strategic importance to them.

"It's great on the thought leadership side for us," says Dr. Kennedy. "But it will also provide a greater set of opportunities for our students."

While firm figures have not been set, Mr. Lyons estimates that "dozens and dozens" of students from the London, Ont., school's various business programs would be eligible for internships and other work opportunities at the bank in the next few years. As well, other Ivey students will have a chance to participate in hackathons, seminars and other events examining digital transformation issues.

Finally, Dr. Kennedy says he expects an annual research conference will be established for the finance sector, academics and students to discuss current issues.

The development of strategic funding partnerships – with donor and recipient as participants in a continuing relationship – is an emerging trend.

In February, Scotiabank announced $2.2-million over four years for a new centre for customer analytics at the Smith School of Business at Queen's University in Kingston, with the funds used to support research and paid student internships.

At Ivey, says Dr. Kennedy, such strategic partnerships are "a growing part of our [fundraising] development effort."

Global summer school begins in Montreal

Executive education has been a global offering of the school of management at the University of Quebec at Montreal for 35 years, working with partner schools in about a dozen countries.

This summer, UQAM's business school is adding a new twist on international learning, giving students in other countries the option to complete one week of their executive MBA studies in Montreal. When fully implemented over the next few years, the summer-school project will create opportunities for students in one country to take a week-long course at one or more of the partner schools in UQAM's international network. Those who complete at least three summer-school courses away from their home base will receive academic recognition when they graduate from the part-time, two-year MBA.

"You have no choice; the world is going global," says Benoit Bazoge, assistant director of international programs at UQAM's school of management, of the impetus for the project. "This is one opportunity for them [students] to build on the network we offer them."

Students who sign up for the course in Montreal this summer will study strategic and competitive intelligence, including how to make the most of analytical and other tools to assess data and other research central to a company's future. The one-week course will include a field trip to a Montreal-area firm for a case study.

"The big advantage is to create an opportunity for students to join a class with different nationalities at the same time," says Prof. Bazoge.

Student-led investment fund puts real money on the line

For years, the York University Student Investment Fund ran as a simulation for undergraduates across campus to learn how to manage other people's money.

Last month, York University and its Schulich School of Business announced that the fund now will operate with real capital, giving students experience in real-time portfolio management and investment.

So far, alumni and other donors have contributed $60,000 to the fund (along with in-kind industry support), with a goal of boosting the fund's capital to $100,000 over time.

The fund will be operated by 26 undergraduates, led by a chief investment strategist and a portfolio manager and a team of six senior analysts.

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