Duke University
Duke University

North Carolina’s Duke University has partnered with blockchain startup Citizens Reserve to boost blockchain and cryptocurrency awareness and education through several initiatives including the establishment of a new lab and a new blockchain-focused educational program, the startup said on Monday.

The collaboration will seek to prepare students for the workforce and provide them with the vital skills and connections needed to become successful in the industry, in addition to internships and full-time job opportunities.

The partnership will see Citizens Reserve establish a new incubation lab on campus for students to work on blockchain projects, host blockchain-focused events, and connect with other students interested in learning about the technology. The lab will be equipped with tools, such as mining rigs, that will allow students to explore various blockchain mechanisms.

Citizens Reserve will also support the university’s efforts to create a curriculum to form students on the technology through in-class participation, online forums, and joint meetups, as well as provide access to work on real blockchain projects, and introductions to blockchain experts.

Campbell Harvey, a professor of finance at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, will serve as the faculty advisor to the program and will help build out the blockchain course curriculum.

“It is crucial that academic institutions be willing to collaborate with thought leaders in the blockchain industry,” Harvey said. “Duke is very proactive in external collaborations and we are excited about the opportunity for our students to get hands on, industry-relevant experience.”

Duke University’s partnership with Citizens Reserve is the institution’s latest initiative focusing on blockchain technology. In parallel, the university is part of Ripple’s University Blockchain Research Institute (UBRI), a global initiative launched in June 2018 aimed at accelerating academic research, technical development and innovation in blockchain, cryptocurrency and digital payments.

Besides Duke University, the UBRI initiative counts the likes of Carnegie Mellon University, Cornell University, the National University of Singapore, the University of Sao Paulo, and the Institute for Fintech Research, Tsinghua University, as partners.

Duke’s Blockchain Lab opened in November 2016 and is housed under the Innovation and Entrepreneurship department. The lab acts as a platform for students to learn about and be involved in blockchain technology. It focuses on education initiatives such as hosting speakers in the industry and runs course events.

Citizens Reserve is a startup based in the Bay Area led by former members of Deloitte’s global blockchain practice. Last fall, the company launched the alpha version of Suku, a supply chain-as-a-service platform built on blockchain. It has since partnered with Smartrac, a RFIC tag manufacturer based in Amsterdam, to ensure that products like meat, livestock and vaccines are tracked and traced along their supply chain routes via unique digital identities.

Citizens Reserve has raised US$11 million in funding so far.