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UT Austin’s McCombs School of Business Part of $50M Blockchain Innovation Program Launched by Ripple

The McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin will participate in a new blockchain research and innovation program founded by the distributed-ledger currency exchange company Ripple.

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AUSTIN, Texas — The McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin will participate in a new university program founded by the distributed-ledger currency exchange company Ripple to support academic research, technical development and innovation in blockchain, cryptocurrency and digital payment methodologies.

As part of this program, Ripple, a company that uses blockchain technology to provide real-time international currency transfers, has made a five-year, multimillion-dollar commitment to support McCombs blockchain technology research, organizational activities and course development.

“Blockchain is one of the most important developments of the last decade, with the potential to transform how business is conducted,” said McCombs Dean Jay Hartzell. “We are honored that Ripple selected us as an academic contributor to this endeavor. Their gift is a validation of our leadership in transformative technology innovation. It will enable us to grapple with some of the most pressing issues our rapidly evolving economic world has to offer.”

McCombs is among 17 academic recipients worldwide selected for Ripple’s blockchain research program, including Wharton, MIT, Princeton, Berkeley Haas, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the University of Oregon, the University of Waterloo, University College London, Korea University, the University of Luxembourg, the Australian National University College of Law, Fundação Gutulio Vargas Brazil, the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, the International Institute of Information Technology Hyderabad, the University of Nicosia Cyprus and the Delft University of Technology Netherlands. Ripple has pledged more than $50 million in total to the program.

The Ripple gift will support the Blockchain Initiative at Texas McCombs, a new effort to engage students and faculty members from a wide range of academic fields and backgrounds in advancing the global blockchain ecosystem.

“Demand for blockchain learning, research and project-based experience is at an all-time high among university faculty and students, and this gift will go a long way in fulfilling that demand,” said Cesare Fracassi, a McCombs associate professor of finance and the Blockhain Initiative’s director.

In addition to financial resources, Ripple has also committed to providing McCombs with strategic guidance and technical resources as needed.

Academia has traditionally been a critical driver of technical innovation,” said Eric van Miltenburg, senior vice president of global operations at Ripple. “Our support of McCombs is an acknowledgment of the important role the school has the potential to play in advancing our understanding and application of cryptography and blockchain technology. Much of the enthusiasm and activity to date around blockchain is disconnected from real use cases that result in clear customer benefits,” said van Miltenburg. “While Ripple won’t dictate research parameters, we are excited to play a role in helping to support projects that explore increasingly useful applications of blockchain and cryptocurrencies.”

The McCombs School of Business is an academic leader in blockchain and cryptocurrency research, teaching and innovation. In April, the school hosted a national blockchain conference that brought speakers from Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Walmart Inc., Merck & Co., IBM, Enterprise Ethereum Alliance, USAA and Ripple together with academics, practitioners and students to debate and explore the business opportunities and challenges of adopting blockchain technology.