The difference between science and technology is that science is pure knowledge and technology is essentially the know-how to implement this knowledge. This has been a distinction we can see in traditional academia versus industries as well. Usually, a subject is proposed or discovered, then it is researched, and then someone finds a use for it and industries pick them up, while the academic circle is generally based on science and peer-reviewed research.
Mainstream technologies are those that get mass-adopted by industries once it gains initial momentum and subsequent popularity. Deep learning was a purely academic subject for decades even when other artificial intelligence methodologies were in use by the industry. Once it became viable, it was adopted by industries and is now one of the most preferred methods of analyzing big data, for instance. Cryptocurrencies are one area where this was not the case. When Bitcoin came up, developers, geeks, and enthusiasts nurtured it, grew it through their passionate communities, and now we witness that the academic circle is catching up. This is not to say that universities and researchers were completely void in the crypto space, especially since some of the early contributors where researchers and academia professors themselves. Yet, in general, the early years resembled more of an open source project than an academic subject in practice.
There is a demand for professionals equipped with the skills required to develop blockchain solutions and students are looking for courses which can provide them with exactly that. The current interest into cryptocurrencies came about with the huge rise in the price of bitcoin and other altcoins. Researchers and industry experts realized what blockchain can do to solve the world’s current problems. Also, there is a consistent effort from governments to regulate crypto and how blockchain can be used. All of this has generated a huge amount of interest in the field of crypto and blockchain in general.
This month has brought three huge developments within the blockchain academic circle.
Blockchain Accelerator by Columbia University
An approach taken by Columbia University, New York is about supporting and encouraging startups and innovation. For this, the university has teamed up with IBM. The plan basically is a service package worth 400,000 dollars through accelerator programmes. Altogether, the programme will cover a total of 10 startups. The accelerator consists of two programmes. One by the university and the other by IBM. The university is focusing on the idea and pre-seed stage, while IBM is focusing on the growth stage, especially enterprise solutions from the world over. The programme by Columbia University is reserved for New York University-affiliated companies only. What makes the programme unique and attractive is the fact that neither the university nor IBM is seeking equity or payment in return, ie, it is not a loan or investment but rather simply free money.
Partnership to improve cybersecurity
Luxembourg based VNX exchange, along with Luxemburg University partnered to excel at the aspect of cyber security for crypto platforms. The focus of this endeavor is to safeguard the current industry from criminal activities such as hacks, scams etc. They are also focusing on money laundering, specifically at regulatory compliance issues such as KYC (Know Your Customer). Matters concerning individual transactions, its verification, and plugging any vulnerabilities are also researched.
Blockchain Course by Tokyo University
The University of Tokyo is taking a more traditional approach by providing courses with syllabi like entrepreneurship with blockchain technology and management of startups. In the hope to create interest among students around blockchain eventually ideally leading to new innovations and startups, the course is funded by the donation of Ethereum foundation along with several companies striving to achieve a business model where it is beneficial for users, companies, and the society. The total donation amounts to around 800,000 dollars.
A step in the right direction
In the bigger picture, this can be seen as the crypto market reaching maturity. Research on issues related with blockchain, professionals working with industry and university training for their upskilling, government regulation, security, and general awareness and problem solving with this technology is transforming the crypto world from a wild west limited to a few internet users to a widely accepted technology. There is a general consensus that blockchain has a great role in the future and this a good step towards that.