Prestigious United States public school the University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley) has launched a 12-week accelerator program for early-stage blockchain startups. The launch was reported in an official announcement published on Jan. 28.
The Berkeley Blockchain Xcelerator is partly sponsored by venture capital fund Berkeley X-Lab Fund and is reportedly the result of cooperation between Berkeley Engineering’s Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology, the Haas School of Business and Blockchain at Berkeley.
The latter is a student-run organization for blockchain innovation comprised of over 100 Berkeley students — as well as figures from industry and academia — which has reportedly designed and taught multiple blockchain and crypto-related for-credit courses, signing up over 70,000 tutees online to date. It has also reportedly developed blockchain proofs-of-concept (PoCs) for a number of — unspecified — Fortune 100 firms.
Gloria Zhao, president of Blockchain at Berkeley, outlined the rationale behind an academia-housed accelerator program, proposing that:
“With such a nascent technology as blockchain, we see that a lot of subject matter experts and people making an impact in the blockchain space are students. Blockchain at Berkeley strives to foster the entrepreneurial spirit in our students, so we are excited to help lead this initiative and assist the next generation of blockchain innovators.”
The accelerator program is reportedly open to blockchain projects globally; the selected participants will be mentored by entrepreneurs, alumni, faculty, investors and students as they prepare for a demo day at the program’s close.
Underscoring its multi-pronged approach to promoting blockchain and cryptocurrency education — via its both dedicated venture capital fund, SCET Blockchain X-Lab, and its student-led organization — UC Berkeley also notes that its Entrepreneurship Center has launched a host of new labs devoted not only to blockchain but also to innovation in data science, artificial intelligence and sustainability.
As recently reported, UC Berkeley has partnered with Ripple’s global University Blockchain Research Initiative to host a blockchain and fintech industry spring speaker series at the Haas School of Business. UC Berkeley is also working with UBRI to develop cross-departmental courses and funded research projects in the field, and to sponsor an upcoming blockchain hackathon.
Many universities worldwide have launched their own internal blockchain laboratories, research centres and degree programs and certificates — including the high-ranked university MIT in the U.S. and the IT University of Copenhagen.