The Time for Progress is Now

Celebrating Five Years of UBRI

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Five years ago, Ripple’s University Blockchain Research Initiative (UBRI) launched and made history with a $50M philanthropic commitment to leading universities around the world to support academic research, technical development and innovation in blockchain and crypto. 

This commitment has helped solidify blockchain’s role in an inevitable digital-first future. UBRI has now established more than 50 university partners across six continents, awarded 590 fellowships and scholarships, and supported the publication of over 1,000 research articles and presentations. 

UBRI’s portfolio of research and initiatives covers a breadth of subjects given blockchain technology’s pivotal role across a diverse range of industries, many of which are discussed amongst scholars in the award winning All About Blockchain podcast. Additional contributions have been collected and shared in UBRI’s 2021 and 2022 university partners’ research highlights. 

An impressive seven of the world’s top ten university blockchain programs are UBRI partners, delivering trailblazing insights and innovation for developers, entrepreneurs, financial service providers, and central banks. Professors across UPenn Wharton, Georgetown, University College London, Kyoto University, and many more are publishing work supported by academic research to help inform global policy, implementation, and mainstream adoption of this promising new technology.

From an international perspective, UBRI partners banded together with other universities to form the DEC Institute, a global certification consortium that verifies blockchain knowledge and best practices. This includes the Chartered Blockchain Expert exam which tests broader knowledge of technological, business, and regulatory aspects of distributed ledger technology; the Chartered Digital Asset Analyst exam which tests specialized knowledge of business and regulatory aspects of digital assets; and online learning materials.

With support from UBRI, countless university partners have kickstarted their own in-house programs to accelerate blockchain education. The Berkeley Blockchain Xcelerator and Lab for Inclusive FinTech, Wharton Blockchain and Digital Asset Project, IIT Bombay's Center of Excellence and NUS FinTech Lab are just a few projects stemming from UBRI funding to help advance the next generation of blockchain leaders.

UBRI has also been a major contributor to building a stronger and more diverse fintech workforce. Ripple Fellowship recipients who conduct XRPL research may also apply for XRPL Grants, a program which funds software development projects leveraging the XRPL - to support the technical development of their project scopes — a truly full circle initiative. University of Luxembourg UBRI funding recipient and PhD graduate Erik Falk recently co-founded the digital storage company Filedgr with support from XRPL Grants. Another fellowship recipient and graduate from University of Cape Town, Titose Chembezi, won an XRPL Hackathon for developing the non-custodial wallet Nautilus, and went on to receive funding from XRPL Grants. Titose was also honored with the 2022 UBRI Impact Award for her work on leveraging blockchain to support financial inclusion in emerging economies. Soon after, the Ripple CBDC Platform adopted this wallet to put into real-world practice.

UBRI also hosts an annual conference, UBRI Connect, which showcases academic blockchain research initiatives, further powering academia's vital role in advancing blockchain adoption and innovation across business sectors. 

UBRI Connect has been hosted in Berkeley, London, and soon Toronto, bringing together some of the world’s most prestigious academic leaders and talents, including UPenn Wharton Law Professor Kevin Werbach, Rutgers Law Professor Yuliya Guseva, Stanford University Finance Professor Darrell Duffie, Duke Finance Professor Cambell Harvey, Executive Director of UCL CBT Paolo Tasca, and soon Computer Science Professors from UC Berkeley, Dawn Song, and Carnegie Mellon, Elaine Shi, to name a few. 

Additionally, UBRI has partnered with a number of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) throughout the United States in an effort to diversify the fintech workforce, resulting in:

  • 28 participating HBCUs

  • 145 faculty and student fellowships

  • 8 new blockchain and fintech courses

  • 22 research projects

  • 3 annual national HBCU conferences

To date, UBRI’s partnership with Morgan State has enabled the development of new and expanded courses, paving the way for other HBCUs to generate research, conferences and scholarships including Morehouse College, Stillman College and Florida A&M University. 

Pathways for careers in blockchain are widening, as evidenced by UBRI's impact over the past five years. As adoption of real-world applications of blockchain and digital assets increases, academic research is key to providing the industry with a roadmap for the future to take things to the next level.

Learn more about blockchain research and innovation in the Ripple Impact report.

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