Software Development
Cryptocurrency / Universities

Penn joins $50M blockchain research push launched by Ripple

The Ivy League institution is one of 17 schools joining the San Francisco company's University Blockchain Research Initiative.

The University of Pennsylvania. (University of Pennsylvania by f11photo via Shutterstock)

The University of Pennsylvania is one of 17 universities around the world to join a $50 million, multi-year research and development initiative backed by San Francisco, Calif.-based cryptocurrency payment network Ripple.

Funding from Ripple’s University Blockchain Research Initiative will let Penn’s Wharton School and the School of Engineering and Applied Science work jointly on “The Ripple Project,” an avenue for academic research, technical development, and innovation in blockchain, cryptocurrency and distributed ledger technology.

Ripple’s head of corporate communications, Tom Channick, told Technical.ly in an email that the company won’t be disclosing the specific amounts allocated to each institution, but said Ripple will enter “multi-year, multi-million dollar commitments” with all of the universities.

“Much of the enthusiasm and activity to date around blockchain is disconnected from real use cases that result in clear benefits to businesses or civil society,” Eric van Miltenburg, Ripple’s SVP of Global Operations, said in a statement. “While Ripple won’t dictate research parameters, we are excited to play a role in helping to support faculty and student-led projects that explore increasingly useful applications of blockchain and cryptocurrencies.”

At Penn, the newly-established Ripple Fellowship will support select MBA-MS candidates each year for a Wharton–Engineering dual-degree program, prioritizing students working on blockchain or cryptocurrency research.

“There is tremendous excitement and initiative around blockchain among faculty and students,” said Vijay Kumar, the Nemirovsky Family Dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science. “By collaborating with Ripple, we will answer crucial questions about blockchain’s capabilities, applications, and security, and we will develop a deeper understanding of the many emerging protocols built over blockchain.”

Founded in 2004 as a decentralized online payments network, Ripple employs 270 employees and has its U.S. offices in San Francisco and New York. Well known among cryptoheads for its XRP cryptocurrency, the company has signed on clients like MoneyGram, Santander and Bank of America to its online payments platform.

“We are thrilled to welcome Ripple’s collaboration as we prepare future leaders who will shape the future of how this dynamic technology is developed to transform fields as diverse as finance, logistics, and healthcare,” said Geoffrey Garrett, Dean of the Wharton School.

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