Ripple effect: Blockchain initiative gets major boost from industry leader

Step aside, dollar bill. Ripple XRP is here to give you a run for your money.

Like Bitcoin, this “born-digital” cryptocurrency — once limited to the speculative realm of cyber geeks — is rapidly earning value in the real world thanks to blockchain, a new data-linking technology that acts as a secure way to handle digital transactions and sensitive data.

Last June, Ripple — an industry leader in blockchain technology — selected the Haas School of Business as a partner in its $50 million University Blockchain Research Initiative, which includes 29 universities around the world. The grant has already catalyzed blockchain efforts at Berkeley, which is blossoming into a hothouse of innovation enabling its potential.

The partnership has sparked a surge of new research projects, courses, and incubators, including the Berkeley Blockchain Xcelerator, which provides money and mentorship to student teams building enterprises. The first round of grants went to eight faculty members and eight graduate students. Kate Tomlinson M.B.A. ’20, for example, is creating a blockchain platform for the energy sector to handle carbon credit trading, electric vehicle management, and more. Bosun Adebaki M.B.A. ’19 is researching how central banks worldwide might use digital currency to become more competitive, flexible, and efficient.

“Individual companies and researchers can only accomplish so much,” says Laura Tyson, faculty director of Haas’s Institute for Business and Social Impact, which houses the initiative. “By supporting a research network that spans so many great universities, Ripple is building a powerful program that could lead to important advances for not only the entire sector, but for the world.”

Illustration of blue interlocking chains with numbers on them

Illustration representing blockchain

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