UBRI: Ripple’s Investment in the Next Generation of Human Capital, or Itself?

After donating $29 million worth of cryptocurrency to an American public school charity; the U.S. based blockchain solution company, Ripple is making waves in the Ed-tech world as it launched its university initiative for blockchain related academic research and technical development. Which is worth a whooping amount of $50 million. The University Blockchain Research Initiative (UBRI) initially has 17 prestigious international universities under its umbrella.

Universities Under UBRI

  1. The University of Pennsylvania
  2. CSAIL at MIT
  3. The Center for Information Technology Policy at Princeton University
  4. Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley
  5. University of Waterloo
  6. UCL (University College London)
  7. University of Oregon
  8. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  9. Korea University
  10. University of Luxembourg
  11. Delft University of Technology (Netherlands)
  12. University of Nicosia (Cyprus)
  13. Australian National University
  14. Fundação Getulio Vargas (Brazil)
  15. McCombs School of Business, UT-Austin
  16. IIT Bombay
  17. International Institute of Information Technology, Hyderabad (IIIT-H)

The project aims to focus on three major attributes, innovating the distributed ledger technologies, the applications in the world of business and the socio-economic threats of the technology and its legal implications.

Eric van Miltenburg, senior vice president of Business Operations at Ripple stated,

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.

Despite investing quite a hefty amount for this initiative, the autonomy to select research topics and areas of focus will rest with the universities. However, in addition to financial resources, Ripple will be providing the universities with subject matter expertise as well as technical resources as needed.

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 crypto currencies,

said Miltenburg.

Ripple has partnered with several financial institutions that deal in real time transactions. It has signed deals with Western Union and MoneyGram as well to facilitate the transfer of large sums of money efficiently and economically. Other agreements in this partnership also include a deal with American Express and with Spain’s largest bank, Santander.

Ripple will facilitate the partners via the Ripple network, a technology developed by Ripple itself, specifically to target the banking and financial services industry. The big advantage is that it does not limit the banks to use its XRP cryptocurrency.


This initiative is not merely a step towards fulfilling the company’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) or an act of philanthropy. Ripple explained the thought process behind this initiative;

As globalization increases, so does the demand for technological solutions and talent to solve the world’s hardest financial problems, such as retail remittances.

The initiative seems to paint a big picture for Ripple itself, as in the long run they are strategically investing in the next generation of human capital to meet the soaring need for tech savvy individuals.

 The UBRI is an acknowledgment of the vital importance of the unique role universities will play in advancing our understanding and application of cryptography and blockchain technology. It also speaks to the reality that university graduates will fuel a continually evolving and maturing financial marketplace and workforce

According to a press release in the Business Wire, a report from 2017 showed that global investment in FinTech companies grew by 11 percent. In addition, 4,500 job openings with the terms ‘blockchain’, ‘bitcoin’ or ‘cryptocurrency’ in the title were posted on LinkedIn this year. That’s an increase of 151 percent over the total LinkedIn postings that mentioned those terms last year.

Another idea floating around is that, this could be an attempt to highlight the company’s image and bring it to the forefront of the digital world, as well as boost its cryptocurrency, XRP. In this whole cryptocurrency debacle, the bitcoin seems to be stealing the spotlight.

People are being speculative about the reasons behind Ripple choosing that the $50 million sum will be made available in fiat, and not in XRP tokens. Could this initiative encourage the hardcore bitcoin community to view of Ripple and XRP in a new light, reevaluating its potential?

While the initiative has casted a cloud of speculation over its ulterior motives, one thing remains certain; the Ripple University Blockchain Research Initiative will most likely serve as a reference point in developing the trend of collaboration between blockchain based tech firms and academic institutions as the world grows to see it as an inevitable part of the future.

Abeer Anwaar

Abeer holds a Bachelors degree in Media studies and covers blockchain startups for BlockPublisher. An optimist, excels in the art of the written word and swears by the joy of all things sweet. Contact the editor at editor.startups@blockpublisher.com

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