UPDATE (22, August 22:45 UTC): MouseBelt does not have any official connection with Oxford, Cambridge, or Harvard Universities as a previous version of this story indicated.
A VC-backed blockchain firm claiming to work with student-led blockchain clubs at Harvard, Oxford and Cambridge is officially rolling out its programs at three California universities.
MouseBelt‘s Blockchain Accelerator launched Wednesday at UC Davis, UC Los Angeles and UC Santa Barabara, boosting the educational presence at the noted U.S. schools. Backed by over $40 million in funding from NueValue Capital, MouseBelt currently aids 65 student blockchain community groups at 14 universities worldwide.
The accelerator joins MouseBelt’s advisory team and media groups Bitcoin Radio and MouseBelt University.
Bundled into two programs, MouseBelt will sponsor undergraduate to PhD level programs. The first fund will cover research across all three campuses, specifically for blockchain project development. MouseBelt has set aside $500,000 in funding with up to five projects jockeying for $100,000 in seed funding.
MouseBelt is also donating to the three universities engineering departments. The accelerator is hoping to co-op the donations for the development of a general fundraiser toward university selected research capped at $500,000.
Speaking with CoinDesk, university outreach director Ashlie Meredith said the program is designed to fill a knowledge gap in the university level system. Most universities do not hold blockchain classes, leaving student organizations to fill the void.
A little over a year ago, these same student organizations became the basis for MouseBelt’s current initiative.
“We aim to help these universities become a driving force for innovation in the blockchain space, as well as provide students and researchers with the opportunity for both theoretical and industry experience.”
What’s in it for MouseBelt? Meredith says it’s not only about equity holds in successful projects, but a long term play on student development.
Blockchain courses in demand
Dr Mohammad Sadoghi, head of ExpoLab at UC Davis, who has been working with MouseBelt for the past year in various functions, says student demand for blockchain coursework is high. Sadoghi told CoinDesk his engineering blockchain classes max out at 65 students, forcing him to add a waitlist and cut students.
“What would it look like if a computation is democratic and decentralized?” Sadoghi asked in a conversation with CoinDesk. To him, blockchain technology is a paradigm shift in data storage and one requiring youthful creativity.
Running his own separate program at UC Davis, Sadoghi says undergraduates are currently forgotten in the space. Often, however, they hold the motivation and energy but merely lack the opportunity.
California flag via CoinDesk archives