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Hong Kong based IOHK invests in Blockchain research lab

 
Elaine Ballantyne
The Edinburgh investment aims to produce innovative research on blockchain technology (Source: University of Edinburgh)

A Hong Kong-based cryptocurrency research and development company is investing in a research laboratory at The University of Edinburgh's School of Informatics.

IOHK is a global company of 70 people, incorporated in Hong Kong. Its researchers and developers work remotely in countries from South America to Japan, where it also has a small office. It was set up in 2015 to make cryptocurrencies, like the digital currency bitcoin, and the venture has already proved profitable.

Charles Hoskinson, chief executive and co-founder, IOHK:

“The University of Edinburgh's world-class School of Informatics is highly regarded for the calibre of its research, making it an attractive partner for IOHK.”

UK Leader

The School of Informatics at The University of Edinburgh is one of UK leaders for computer science and related studies and as a result Edinburgh became one of IOHK's first university partnerships.

The two partners are jointly investing up to $1m in The Blockchain Technology Laboratory, which is the first such industry-academic partnership for the study of blockchain in Scotland.

Blockchain is an encrypted digital ledger technology that has major implications in tackling fraud, speeding up settlements and lowering transaction costs. The innovation of the technology is that it’s a shared database, jointly run and maintained by all parties, removing the need for a trusted authority to hold the information.

The aim of the lab is to produce research on this rapidly-evolving emerging tech. This will immediately be applied to blockchains that are being built for financial applications, shortening the cycle between academia and industry.

Blockchain collaboration

Professor Aggelos Kiayias, chair of cyber security and privacy at The University of Edinburgh’s School of Informatics, is director of the lab. He will organise collaborations with fellow academics at the university and oversee researchers and students from undergraduate to PhD level in a broad range of topics related to blockchain.

Recent joint work led by Professor Kiayias involved a new idea using a cryptographic principle called Proof of Stake. This allows blockchains to scale to many more users than they’ve yet been able to handle – an important step in making the technology usable by finance and businesses at large.

Charles Hoskinson states, “The University of Edinburgh's world-class School of Informatics is highly regarded for the calibre of its research, making it an attractive partner for IOHK.”

“Prof Kiayias is renowned for his work on cryptography, the maths-based science that secures communications, from mobile phones to online banking. IOHK is working with researchers and academics around the world to advance the knowledge that goes into building blockchains, and is unique in the industry in doing this.”

To promote widespread growth of this field, IOHK will look to strengthen educational opportunities around blockchain technology and its potential applications.

Ground-breaking tech

The Edinburgh investment aims to produce innovative research on blockchain technology and its far-reaching implications in a variety of industries.

“Since IOHK is committed to developing industry standards and best practices, all work produced by the lab is open-source and patent-free, ensuring that it benefits anyone interested in learning about this ground-breaking technology.” adds Hoskinson.

The Blockchain Technology Laboratory is looking to foster connections with industry and the local business and entrepreneur community – and both it and IOHK are open to hearing from anyone with an interest in this exciting new field.