US Energy Department Fuels Universities with $4.8 Million Blockchain Funding

The US Department of Energy (DoE) has said that it will be backing universities’ research and development projects, including blockchain, up to the tune of USD 4.8 million.

The funding comes from the Office of Fossil Energy under the University Training and Research initiative, which normally funds projects that show the potential to bring advancement to fossil fuel-based energy, while reducing the risks associated and bringing down operating costs.

Under the initiative, the US DoE encourages the development of cutting edge technologies that can make energy more affordable, especially though bringing efficiency into electrical grid systems.

The funding, normally meant for development in computing systems for coal-fired plants for analytical processing, water reprocessing and environmental sciences, is also seeking blockchain this time in order to “secure process signal data and other information flows within distributed sensor networks for fossil-based power generation systems”.

The DoE is not new to the technology, however. Almost a year back in January 2018, it had teamed up with BlockCypher, a blockchain company, to develop a multi blockchain system for energy bill settlements. It had also approved a USD 1 million grant to a Colorado blockchain company, Grid7, for the development of a decentralized energy grid.

The use of blockchain by energy sector from around the world is a recurring theme. South Korean state power company KEPCO is using the technology for the development of microgrids, while the affluent residents of Bangkok are already using blockchain on a trial basis for exchanging renewable energy.

Author: Talha Dar
Image Credit

Crypto VC Funding Up Even As ICOs Drop, Market Thrashing Continues

  • ICO investment down 74% for 2018 Q3 versus Q1
  • However, VC funding in crypto is strong and growing, up 3x versus last year

Funding in the crytopasset industry is undergoing a broad shift amid the ongoing decline in market values. Institutional and venture capital (VC) money is taking up the slack as retail investors leave the space, according to a new review by Outlier Ventures, an early-funding technology VC firm based in the UK.

Outlier reports that VC investment in the crypto industry is up 316% so far in 2018 over last year, with the majority of funding coming from the US. However, the increase in VC funding is backgrounded by a major drop in overall initial coin offering (ICO) investments of 74% between Q1 and Q3, or to about $1 billion from $3.8 billion earlier this year.

The report also reveals a shift in the type and quality of project funding being pitched today, claiming a “drastic reduction in the frequency and size of token sales,” which were in the past mostly bought up by retail investors. In lieu of the ICO model, private equity investment is increasing at all funding stages, with late stage funding becoming more common this year versus last year (mergers and acquisitions fall in this category, which have also risen this year).

Increasing Professionalization

Projects are bringing more to the table now, with a “considerable improvement in both the amount of traction and complexity of token design by startups before they approach […] markets.” Outlier “expect private investors to increasingly dominate the earlier stages of [projects’ lifecycles],” who will only later offer public markets stake in their ventures.

By way of explanation, Outlier partner Eden Dhaliwal identified an “[exasperation] over valuations of tokenized networks” that has caused a renewed interest in “equity based blockchain investments,” and away from ICOs. Another source of token frustration is the difficulty of getting a token listen on exchanges, with Outlier suggesting that hundreds of tokens from 2017-18 sales are yet to be listed on a large exchange.

Overall, the story told is one of increasing professionalization of the crypto industry, as professional (private) investors replace retail (public) investors, and take stakes in more polished and fewer projects. CrypoGlobe has been reporting on the increase in institutional interest in cryptoassets even as prices tumble to new year lows.

Other Takeaways

Institutional interest in Zero-Knowledge Proof (ZKP) technology – whose flagship cryptoasset is perhaps Zcash – is growing according to Outlier, who cite EY’s and ING’s experimentation with ZKP during 2018.

The review took special mention of the state of crypto in China, saying that not only is the Chinese government monitoring blockchain transactions, but also that Chinese “[s]ervice providers are also expected to monitor on-chain transactions” and report their findings to the government – although such an attitude would not be exclusive to China according to other sources.

Author: Colin Muller
Image Credit