San Francisco-based Ripple has announced a University Blockchain Research Initiative which will include a funding amount of $50 million for select academic institutions. Despite the current lethargy in cryptocurrency markets, interest in blockchain is at a fever pitch, especially on campus. Ripple recognizes that students and faculty are key elements for the creation of a more robust and valuable blockchain ecosystem.
In an announcement on the company blog, Ripple — touting itself as “one of the most mature companies in the space” — said it was uniquely suited to partnering with the academic community.
The University Blockchain Research Initiative (UBRI) will partner with 17 universities around the globe, including MIT, Princeton, University of Pennsylvania, the business schools at the University of California Berkeley and the University of Texas, Fundação Getulio Vargas in Brazil, and colleges in the U.K., Netherlands, Australia, India, South Korea, Luxembourg, Cyprus and Canada.
Over $50 million in funding will be pledged by Ripple for the schools to focus on their own projects and priority areas, including:
- Collaborate on research and technology development that will stimulate widespread understanding and innovation in the blockchain space.
- Create new curriculums to meet high student demand for learning about blockchain, cryptocurrency, and other FinTech topics.
- Stimulate ideas and dialog among students, faculty, technologists and business leaders on topics of shared interest.
Eric van Miltenburg, senior vice president of global operations at Ripple, said:
Academia has traditionally been a critical driver of technical innovation. The University Blockchain Research Initiative is an acknowledgment of the vital importance of the unique role universities will play in advancing our understanding and application of cryptography and blockchain technology.
The projects will focus on various implications of blockchain applications and cryptocurrency adoption. Princeton University’s Center for IT, for example, will create a UBRI program to study the policy impact of cryptocurrencies and blockchain in the U.S. and around the world. The University of Pennsylvania will meanwhile launch a new dual degree program, supported by the UBRI, for MBAs studying blockchain and crypto tech.
Greg Brown, professor of finance and director of the Frank Hawkins Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise at UNC Kenan-Flagler, said:
UNC Kenan-Flagler and the Kenan Institute are uniquely qualified to be part of this global initiative. Our research focus has always been around real-use cases that result in clear benefits to businesses and society, particularly with respect to cutting-edge technologies. This partnership with Ripple to discover useful applications of blockchain and cryptocurrencies is a logical extension of our efforts.
According to Ripple, universities have traditionally been viewed as the backbone of innovation as they may offer a level of independence that the private sector cannot.
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