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New University Initiative Examines Role, Impact of Digital Markets

$6 million gift from Charles Koch Foundation paves way for deeper study

A new University of Florida initiative in the Warrington College of Business will focus on the role and impact of growing digital markets. The program, supported with a $6 million gift from the Charles Koch Foundation, will include opportunities for rigorous research, faculty enhancements and fellowships, student mentorship and public engagement through workshops, conferences and lectures.

Among the Digital Markets Initiative’s undertakings will be evaluating the business and regulatory implications of digital markets. Research, teaching and conferences on the topic will drive the program’s mission, university officials said. The Charles Koch Foundation’s gift will fund two professorships, three graduate and postdoctoral fellowships, grants for visiting scholars, a director’s stipend and outreach activities, as well as provide other program support. The Digital Markets Initiative will be housed in the business college’s Public Utility Research Center (PURC).

“This gift will help put UF in a leadership role in understanding how digitalization is changing businesses and customers,” said PURC Director Mark Jamison, who will oversee the program. “The initiative is launching none too soon. The effects of digital markets on customer buying habits, privacy, markets and regulation are making headlines almost daily. The knowledge we develop will enable UF faculty and students to make positive impacts on the direction of business.”

Said Ryan Stowers, executive vice president of the Charles Koch Foundation: “We’re excited to support the University of Florida in this initiative to provide an environment where scholars and students can explore the impact technological innovation has on individuals and communities.”

Along with the University of Florida, the Charles Koch Foundation provides grants to students and scholars at more than 300 other colleges and universities across the nation. Grantees include institutions such as Harvard, UCLA and Notre Dame. The foundation also works with not-for-profit organizations that seek to improve communities through criminal justice reform, promoting toleration and free speech, economic opportunity, technology and innovation, and other measures.

Warrington College of Business Dean John Kraft said establishing the new Digital Markets Initiative is an important step in helping scholars better understand platforms that are relevant in America and throughout the world.

“We’re grateful to the Charles Koch Foundation for partnering with us to progress scholarly research,” Kraft said. “This gift will help our faculty dive deeper into the ever-dynamic field of digital markets, which is poised to impact the future of how we conduct business and the evolution of our society.”