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W&M Blockchain Lab Fundraising Campaign

 

The W&M Blockchain Lab is a new initiative at William & Mary resulting from a collaboration between the Global Research Institute and the Miller Entrepreneur Center.  

The purpose of the Lab is to drive applied research that influences global business and policy decisions surrounding blockchain as well as foster social impact entrepreneurship in the blockchain space. During these unprecedented times, we acknowledge the challenges affecting us all, but now more than ever we believe our work is vital in supporting the digital infrastructure for a more equitable and sustainable future. 

To that end, we are confident that the W&M Blockchain Lab will be called on to help solve tough challenges surrounding regulations, governance in distributed and consortium style organizations, and to collaborate with relevant parties to build equitable institutions for traditionally vulnerable communities.

Although we just began in March, 2020, we are already making strides to establish William & Mary’s place in the blockchain ecosystem. We have been increasing the number of opportunities for faculty and students from all academic backgrounds to learn about blockchain and develop our Lab’s expertise.

Learning Opportunities

In Fall 2020, we will be offering a cross-listed business and public policy course “Fundamentals of Blockchain: Business and Development Policy” to give students a comprehensive introduction to blockchain and an introduction to methodologies that evaluate its impact on business and development outcomes. 

Outside of the classroom, we have partnered with several blockchain protocols to support global hackathons. In April and May, the W&M Blockchain Lab became an academic partner of Consensys Health to support a global Stop COVID-19 hackathon. Several friends of the Lab, Nikardi Jolla (Epidemiologist) and Trupti Sindhi (Pharmacist), volunteered their expertise to global teams to help create technical solutions to combating the pandemic. Shortly following the conclusion of the Consensys Hackathon, we partnered with Hedera Hashgraph to help support the Hedera Hashgraph Virtual Hackathon which ended June 12, 2020. Our partnership with the Entrepreneurship Center provides students access to the incubator and resources if they choose to compete in the hackathon.

Research Opportunities

This May, we put out a campus wide call for proposals. Accepted proposals are awarded $6000 to engage in applied research with students and contribute to empirical research on blockchain.  We received more proposals than were anticipated and we were only able to fund 6 faculty/student research teams. 

Proposals came from faculty in business, computer science, economics, government, law, physics and math!  In addition to the faculty proposals, several MBA students, post-docs and researchers from as far as Colombia submitted their proposals in hopes of special consideration! 

In addition to our call for proposals, we have hired several interns for the summer to help build out foundational data products of the lab. These interns are Ansh Patel, Gabrielle Hibbert and Olivia Staub. Our goal is to provide open source geo-referenced blockchain data related to funding, regulatory changes, blockchain developments, government agendas and financial flows.

Networking Opportunities

We want our learning and research opportunities to be aligned with and informed by real world needs. To do that we need feedback from practitioners. Consequently we established an inaugural advisory board of alumni working in the blockchain space to keep us on track. Along with our advisory board, we rely on other alumni and industry experts to provide feedback and identify opportunities that align well with our mission. As we find our way to a new normal, we also hope to create networking opportunities in physical and virtual formats.

Partnership Opportunities

Our proximity to DC and strong focus on business, regulatory and empirical research puts us in a position to partner with government, contractors, International Organizations and NGOs. 

We hope that we can continue to rely on the generous support of our W&M community to financially and intellectually support these endeavours. We are grateful for any contribution you choose to give! 

If you should have any questions or would just like to become more acquainted with the W&M Blockchain team, always feel free to contact us at ttwiipongwii@wm.edu.

Thank you for everything you do.

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Best regards,

Troy Wiipongwii

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