One of 17 institutions chosen for Ripple’s $50 million academic pledge, the University of Texas at Austin will receive $2 million from San Francisco-based industry giant Ripple.
The McCombs School of Business at UT will receive $2 million from Ripple over the next five years to fund research at the institution’s Blockchain Initiative program, a report by university student newspaper The Daily Texan has revealed.
McCombs hosted its first blockchain conference in April 2018 to much interest among faculty and students from different universities including its own, the report suggested, pointing to an increasing demand and appetite to explore the decentralized technology commonly associated with cryptocurrencies like bitcoin. The conference was attended by 300 people, including Ripple executives, students and staff. Notable attendees included Goldman Sachs’ senior FinTech equity researcher Jim Schneider and Walmart vice president of food safety Frank Yiannas who delivered keynotes alongside other panelists from USAA, the SEC, ICE and IBM.
“That [conference] was the catalyst for really seeing that there was a lot of demand from students and industries and companies for having a central focus inside the business school to basically harness the demand for blockchain technology,” program director Cesare Fracassi said.
The initiative lays out three main objectives behind its foundation, namely supporting faculty and graduate students on blockchain research “across colleges” at UT, teach students “the main concepts related to blockchain, cryptocurrency and digital payments”, and be “the hub of knowledge for external relations” with the industry, policymakers and media.
While relatively new, McCombs’ Blockchain Initiative will use the funding from Ripple to finance projects, research and outreach programs that connect students to companies in the city, Fracassi added.
Austin is a pretty large hub (for) blockchain technology companies, so I see the initiative as a way to link faculty and students to those companies.
The subject of blockchain technology is also being taught “in several classes” at McCombs with students learning about the “technological, legal and business opportunities and challenges” faced in the rollout of blockchain-powered solutions.
The funding is part of Ripple’s broader $50 million pledge to fund academic blockchain research in seventeen universities around the world. As reported by CCN, the University Blockchain Research Initiative (UBRI) includes universities in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Cyprus, India, Luxembourg, the United Kingdom, Netherlands, Korea and the United States.