UC Berkeley ranks third best university for blockchain technology

CoinDesk published its annual list of top universities for the development of blockchain technology, with UC Berkeley taking third place.

To determine the rankings, CoinDesk examined a variety of factors, including scholarly impact and campus blockchain offerings. This is the second year CoinDesk has published a list of blockchain universities, expanding into international universities.

“​​The punchline is that Berkeley is among the very top-most schools in the blockchain area — that finding is robust,” said Chief Innovation and Entrepreneurship Officer Richard Lyons in an email.

According to Blockchain at Berkeley co-President Darya Kaviani, people exchange information and transactions through central institutions such as banks and government entities. She added that society has become increasingly reliant on these institutions, giving them an “immense” amount of power.

Kaviani claimed the solution lies in blockchain, which is a method of sharing data with two “central” components. First, it contains a database in which every actor can hold a copy. Second, the information that is committed to the blockchain cannot be changed down the line.

“Central institutions end up working to serve an incredibly small class of people,” Kaviani said. “Because they’re usually profit-maximizing, they create really dangerous situations for people like us. When you utilize blockchain technology, you’re able to share data in a decentralized way.”

At UC Berkeley, students can learn and participate in the development of blockchain in a variety of ways. The curriculum offered on campus is at “the frontier” of decentralized finance, according to Lyons. Along with classes, campus has a blockchain startup accelerator, which supports startups in the field.

Blockchain at Berkeley, a student organization, is another hub for blockchain technology on campus, Kaviani said. Among other functions, it organizes classes for students and provides consulting services to blockchain companies.

“I feel great about the rank,” Kaviani said. “The Berkeley community is very excited about blockchain, and I think the way that we can improve our ranking is to create a very cohesive tightknit community that brings together joint blockchain enthusiasts throughout campus.”

Blockchain at Berkeley launched an initiative Thursday called the Berkeley Blockchain Ecosystem, Kaviani said. She added that the purpose of the initiative is to bring all of the spheres of blockchain on campus together: academia, industry and student body.

By bringing together these bubbles, Kaviani noted, UC Berkeley may become the number one university in the world for blockchain.

“It is so natural that Berkeley should lead in the area of decentralized finance: not just because of its intellectual creativity but also because of the open-source nature of what decentralized finance represents,” Lyons said in the email.

Contact Kelly Suth at [email protected], and follow her on Twitter at @kellyannesuth.

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