International doctoral network for digital finance launched

27.03.2024 Together with leading European universities, industry partners, research centres and international regulatory authorities, BFH Business is launching an industrial doctoral network (DIGITAL) with the aim of enabling cutting-edge research in the field of digital finance. Funded by the European Horizon Framework for Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA), DIGITAL will aim to redefine the landscape of digital finance and set new standards for technological innovation and sustainable practices.

Whether Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, blockchain applications or sustainable finance: DIGITAL aims to train young researchers specifically in those disciplines that are necessary in the rapidly developing field of digital finance: DIGITAL thus goes significantly beyond conventional doctoral training in finance and offers a wide range of cross-sector applications: Financial products, risk management, customer-centric products, improved processes and services, as well as new AI techniques, new business models and improved modelling that are important for future professionals in the field.  

DIGITAL’s research and training framework is tightly integrated into the European Digital Finance Package with substantial involvement of the European Central Bank as one of our partners  and will contribute to one of the four EU’s key strategic orientations, namely the promotion of an open strategic autonomy through the development of key digital, enabling and emerging technologies, sectors and value chains that further accelerate the digital and green transition of Europe. 

This is all the more important as digital finance is currently not recognised as a research discipline in its own right - although there are obvious research gaps and significant industry demands. DIGITAL aims to close this gap and significantly advance methods and business models in the field of digital finance. This will be achieved through five interconnected and coherent research objectives to be explored by nineteen PhD students. 

  1. Towards a European Financial Data Space: Focus on ensuring data quality to contribute to the EU's efforts in building a single digital market for data. 

  1. Artificial Intelligence for Financial Markets: Address deployment challenges of complex AI models for real-world financial issues. 

  1. Towards Explainable and Fair AI-Generated Decisions: Validate and extend state-of-the-art explainable AI (XAI) algorithms in financial applications. 

  1. Driving Digital Innovations with Blockchain Applications: Develop risk management tools related to the use of Blockchain technology in finance. 

  1. Sustainability of Digital Finance: Simulate financial markets and evaluate products with a sustainability component. 

To achieve these goals, an internationally recognised network has been put together, consisting of Bern Business School and seven leading European universities (WU Vienna, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Twente, University of Bucharest, Babes-Bolyai University, Kaunas University of Technology and University of Naples), all of which are among the top 200 universities worldwide in their fields. In addition, the project consortium includes five large international companies (Deloitte, Swedbank, Intesa Sanpaolo, Bank for International Settlements (BIS) and Raiffeisen Bank) with a significant research and development presence across Europe, two SMEs (Cardo AI and Royalton Partners) that are among the most innovative companies in their field, three large and internationally renowned research centres (ARC Greece, EIT Digital and Fraunhofer Institute) and the European Central Bank as one of the seven main decision-making bodies of the European Union and Euratom and one of the most important central banks in the world. 

The programme also welcomes interest from other universities and companies to join this expanding network to foster wider collaboration and innovation in the field of digital finance.  


The project, which is aligned with the EU's strategic priorities in the areas of digital finance, artificial intelligence and sustainability, involves 18 partners from various countries. The project runs from January 2024 to December 2027. 

The project is funded by: HORIZON-MSCA-2023-DIGITAL-FINANCE: Integration of Finance, Technology and Data Science  

Coordinator: Joerg Osterrieder  

Planned duration: 48 months  

BFH Business School team: Branka Hadji Misheva, Christian Hopp, Yiting Liu, Lennart Baals, Gabin Taibi, Adam Kurpisz, Ioana-Florina Coita.  

Total project support from the European Commission and the Swiss government: EUR 4.5 million  

Total BFH budget: EUR 600'000 

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