Posted July 20th, 2018 by Jessica MacInnis

U of T Engineering blockchain project receives funding injection from Connaught Fund

Professor Andreas Veneris (ECE, at right), and his team (from left to right) Zissis Poulos, Ryan Berryhill, John Adler (all ECE PhD candidates), and Marco Merlini (ECE MASc candidate) are leading a multidisciplinary project to develop novel methodologies for applying blockchain technology in diverse fields, from law to public policy and beyond. (Credit: Jessica MacInnis)

Blockchain technology has the potential to overhaul the way we carry out transactions, execute contracts and vote in civic elections.

But the development of this technology is happening outside of the mainstream tech sector, with universities and their researchers largely on the sidelines. A project led by Professor Andreas Veneris, of The Edward S. Rogers Sr. Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering (ECE), aims to change that.

Professor Veneris will receive $250,000 to create the UTLedgerHub, the University of Toronto’s global knowledge hub for crypto-economic blockchain technology. The UTLedgerHub is one of four University of Toronto projects that will share almost $1 million in funding from this year’s Connaught Global Challenge Award.

The UTLedgerHub will unite researchers across a wide range of fields to establish U of T as an international leader in research and teaching of decentralized ledger technology and help cement Toronto as a leader in the field at a global scale.

“The area of blockchain research is not simply a technology issue,” said Veneris. “The impact of how we develop and implement these innovations extends well beyond electrical and computer engineering and into law, economics, public policy and social justice.”

His team includes U of T researchers Andreas Park from the Rotman School of Management; Jon Lindsay from the Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy; Katya Malinova from the department of economics, as well as Poonam Puri from Osgoode Hall Law School at York University.

U of T Engineering professors Timothy Chan and Scott Sanner (both MIE) are members of a multidisciplinary team led by Laura Rosella, a professor at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, which is receiving $250,000 to launch a global network to advance innovative research and training in predictive analytics to address pressing global population health challenges.

The awards, furnished by the University of Toronto’s Connaught Fund, support new collaborations involving leading U of T researchers and students from several disciplines, along with innovators and thought leaders from other sectors.

The Connaught funding will help programs get off the ground and boost efforts to find external funding to further develop solutions to global challenges, as well as possibly create new research-oriented academic programs.

“The Connaught Global Challenge Award is unique,” said Vivek Goel, U of T’s vice-president of research and innovation. “It fosters cross-disciplinary research, harnessing the university’s incredible depth and breadth of expertise to come up with truly innovative, groundbreaking solutions.

“Once again, we have been amazed by the tremendous creativity and desire of U of T’s scholars to work together to tackle some of the world’s most challenging and complicated global problems.”

To be considered for Connaught Global Challenge funding, global challenge teams must represent new collaborations involving leading U of T researchers and students from multiple disciplines, along with innovators and thought leaders from other sectors.

With files from Jennifer Robinson