At the recent opening of LaunchLab were, from left, David Roche, Director of Financial Services, Pramerica; Dr Laurentiu Vasiliu, CEO Peracton, Aneta Dobrowolska (Formally JC Morgan); Dr Raghav Srinivas, Economics, NUI Galway; Natalie Walsh, Programme Manager, Blackstone LaunchPad at NUI Galway; Professor Lokesh Joshi, Vice President for Research at NUI Galway; and David Colson, Lorna McLoughlin and Manaswee Dwivedi, LaunchLab interns at NUI Galway.
Mar 02 2017 Posted: 12:53 GMT

‘LaunchLab’ is aimed at aspiring student entrepreneurs

Blackstone LaunchPad at NUI Galway formally opened LaunchLab this week. LaunchLab is a multidisciplinary experiential learning space that supports a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship through interaction, innovation and incubation. 

LaunchLab hosts a series of laboratories aimed at enabling aspiring student entrepreneurs to advance their skills in various domains. The first programmes running in LaunchLab are a ‘Fintech Lab’ and ‘Social Simulation’ with the programme planning to expand to an ideation lab later in 2017.

The Fintech Lab and Social Simulation will run training programs to enable students to develop a core set of skills in advanced analytics and simulation techniques across Fintech and social simulations. The labs are unique in that they are delivered in a peer-to-peer environment by students from Physics, Mathematics, Economics and Finance. Students are trained using the technologies and systems and then deliver content to peer groups on a weekly basis.

Scientific lead and lecturer in Economics at NUI Galway, Dr Raghav Srinivas said: In the technology led big-data driven growth of financial and business sectors, the global competition demands for hybrid and multi-skilled workforce. In this reality, academic disciplines can’t afford to operate in silos and it is imperative to find creative ways to collaborate and provide students with a broader set of interdisciplinary skill capabilities. The training programs envisaged in the FinTech and Social simulation labs are a modest attempt in this direction to develop interdisciplinary skill capacity in analytics, simulation and computing for students in NUI Galway.”

The Fintech Lab:

Blackstone LaunchPad and PERACTON® have partnered to offer this unique programme for NUI Galway. The Fintech lab works at the intersection of entrepreneurship and Fintech. The programme uses PERACTON® financial analytics platform (MAARS) to train students in risk assessment, algorithmic trading and portfolio management using diverse instruments of stocks, bonds and ETFs. PERACTON’s back-testing suite powered by Python will be used to train students to develop their own novel trading strategies. The goal of the course is to prepare the students for the future economic realities where machines will monitor and control financial markets in an uncontested manner. Additionally, a highly experimental sentiment data generated by SSIX EU H2020 project (https://ssix-project.eu/) will be available in Peracton's MAARS algorithmic platform towards the end of the course, so the students can take into account the social network's sentiments with regards to stocks and add them to their algorithmic strategies.

The Social Simulation Lab:

The Social Simulation training program trains students in Social System simulation using large scale models run on Python. Students will be trained in simulating social models of choice, competition, conflict and cooperation using multi-level, multi-agent systems employing range of techniques, including game-theoretic techniques. The aim of this program is to enable students with interdisciplinary analytical skills to explore the complexities of social systems.

Laurentiu Vasiliu, Peracton's founder and CEO says: “Overwhelmingly, computer driven algorithms are now the main actors in financial markets. The financial industry is starting to come to terms that algo-trading and investment is now the norm. Therefore, students nowadays have to be prepared for such reality and with our MAARS platform we are helping them to adapt and thrive in such a globally competitive market.” 

Professor Lokesh Joshi, Vice President for Research and the Blackstone LaunchPad Administrative Leader at NUI Galway outlined how all of these core elements are fundamental to the success of Blackstone LaunchPad at NUI Galway: “Our campus community is growing with over 3,000 students using Blackstone LaunchPad in just over a year. Interdisciplinarity, innovation and engagement are at the heart of Blackstone LaunchPad’s philosophy and it is fantastic to see this programme flourish on campus.”

-Ends-

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