11 More Universities Join $50 Million Blockchain Research Program

February 7, 2019, 3:00 PM UTC

In a sign of blockchain’s growing traction on college campuses, eleven more schools on Thursday formally joined the University Blockchain Research Initiative, a $50 million program backed by the cryptocurrency firm Ripple.

The program, first announced last June, provides funds for research and curriculum development related to blockchain, which is a type of software run across multiple computers to create a permanent, tamper-proof ledger.

The new universities joining the initiative include Cornell, Carnegie Mellon, Duke, and the University of Michigan. They join 17 other schools from around the world that are eligible to receive grants for curriculum development and research by student and faculties.

According to Ripple executive Eric Van Miltenberg, the donations come with no strings attached and are intended to encourage fundamental research into blockchain. He did not provide specific details about individual grants but said they are typically “six figures” and will all be distributed in the next three to five years.

Laura Tyson, a business school professor at the University of California, Berkeley, told Fortune that the school, which was among the original participants, has distributed funding to projects in multiple disciplines, including engineering, information science and law. She added that there is strong interest among students to use blockchain for social impact, including through projects that use the technology to promote financial inclusion.

Tyson says it’s likely too soon for schools to create an academic minor in blockchain, but that she can envision universities offering a certificate in the near future.

Van Miltenberg says another success of the program has been schools creating blockchain research networks amongst themselves.

He added that the schools are only accepting the donation money in traditional fiat currency, but that some schools are exploring ways to do so through cryptocurrency.

Further evidence of blockchain’s popularity on campus is reflected in a survey by Coinase last year that reported a total of 172 blockchain courses offered at the world’s top 50 universities. The list included Stanford University, which offers well over a dozen such classes.

The other universities that on Thursday became part on the research initiative are the University of Kansas, Morgan State University, Georgetown, Northeastern, the National University of Singapore, the University of Sao Paolo, and the Institute for Fintech Research, Tsinghua University.