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Universities Engaged in Blockchain and DLT in Crypto Valley

Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich

For decades, Switzerland has led rankings in competitiveness, intellectual property registrations, and a number of research and teaching institutions.

On a statistical note, Switzerland is ranked 4th in the number of Nobel Prize winners per capita. Information technology, computer science, mathematics, physics, and chemistry have a long and storied tradition in Switzerland’s academic institutions.

It is, therefore, no surprise that leading universities and research institutions in Crypto Valley are working on blockchain-related topics. In addition, several universities in applied sciences are providing continued professional study courses on the topic.

Research activities are largely centered around the cluster of ETH, EPFL, University of Zurich, University of Basel, HSR for Technology Rapperswil, and the University of Lucerne.

The Swiss Universities listed in this article (in no particular order):

  • Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich
  • University of Zurich
  • University of Applied Sciences in Business Administration Zurich
  • University of St. Gallen
  • Eastern Switzerland University of Applied Sciences (OST - Ostschweizer Fachhochschule)
  • University of Geneva
  • Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne
  • IMD Business School Lausanne
  • HEC Lausanne
  • University of Basel
  • The Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts
  • The University of Applied Sciences (HSR Hochschule für Technik Rapperswil)
  • University of Lugano (Università Della Svizzera Italiana)
  • The University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Southern Switzerland
  • The University of Applied Sciences of the Grisons
  • University of Liechtenstein

Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich

ETH in Zurich, source: ETH Facebook Page, Alessandro Della Bella

ETH (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich) has famous institutes for distributed computing, IT security and is the birthplace of well-known computer languages.

ETH Zurich is ranked among the top universities in the world. Typically, popular rankings place the institution as the best university in continental Europe and ETH Zurich is consistently ranked among the top 1–5 universities in Europe, and among the top 20 best universities in the world.

At ETH Zurich, the following topics can be studied: Distributed computing (computability, locality, complexity), distributed systems (Bitcoin), wireline networks (software defined networks), wireless networks (media access theory and practice), social networks (influence), algorithms (online algorithms, game theory), learning theory (recommendation theory and practice).

Prof. Roger P. Wattenhofer, Professor of Distributed Computing and Head of Computer Engineering and Networks Laboratory at ETH states in the Distributed Computing research summary:

We are interested in both theory and practice of computer science and information technology. In our group we cultivate a large breadth of areas, reflecting our different backgrounds in computer science, mathematics, and electrical engineering. This gives us a unique blend of basic and applied research, proving mathematical theorems on the one hand, and building practical systems on the other.

University of Zurich

The University of Zurich, source: Tom Haller

The Blockchain Center at the University of Zurich has created a wide range of activities, including a dedicated MAS, research projects, and a unique interdisciplinary approach that draws on expertise from the largest faculty in Switzerland.

The QS World University Rankings ranks University of Zurich 69th in the world in their 2020/2021 ranking, whilst Times Higher Education World University Rankings ranks this Swiss university as 73rd in the world.

The University of Zurich offers a Certificate of Advanced Studies (CAS) in Blockchain. The course is taught by world-renowned professors across academic disciplines: Law, Informatics, Economics, and Finance. This interdisciplinary approach is necessary to unveil the true potential of this emerging technology and is unique to our program.

The CAS in Blockchain at the University of Zurich looks at these questions and in doing so addresses the topic at a uniquely wide-ranging level: computer scientists, lawyers, economists and financial specialists from the University of Zurich have joined forces to teach participants the technical basics as well as provide them with legal tools and economic knowledge about the applications. In doing so, they are able to call on first-hand experience from academic blockchain projects, consulting activities and company start-ups.

The University of Applied Sciences in Business Administration Zurich

The University of Applied Sciences in Business Administration Zurich, source: HWZ website

The University of Applied Sciences in Business Administration Zurich (HWZ) is the largest university with an exclusive focus on part-time education in economics in Switzerland, offering a full suite of courses: bachelor, masters, doctorate, and other courses.

The HWZ offers a CAS in Fintech & Blockchain Economy, which bridges the gap between the established real economy and the potential for a dynamic future of a fintech-shaped financial world and innovative blockchain-orchestrated value chains.

A conscious demystification of the hype creates a solid knowledge foundation. This course enables you to link the areas of application of fintech and blockchain ecosystems with commercial opportunities for your organization.

The CAS Fintech & Blockchain Economy at the UHZ is aimed at employees from the financial industry, whose partners in the CFO offices on the customer side, consultants / advisers as well as representatives from other business areas. It is aimed to those who want to actively participate in the transformation associated with blockchain concepts and are ambitious to improve their professional skills in this future-oriented field of work in a methodical and well-founded manner.

University of St. Gallen

The University of St. Gallen, source: university’s website

Established in 1898, The University of St. Gallen (HSG) specializes in business administration, economics, law, and international affairs. Although one of Switzerland’s smallest universities, HSG has Switzerland’s largest faculty for business administration. HSG also has among the most billionaire alumni in the world.

The University of St. Gallen has taken up the fight against fake diplomas by implementing the latest technology — blockchain. Using Certifaction’s software they now secure their students’ diplomas on the blockchain, making them immutable and instantly verifiable.

The university is also organizing The St.Gallen Blockchain Roundtable, a one-day event especially designed for multinational corporates who want to deeply immerse into the topic of decentralized platforms and their fundamental implications for different industries.

Eastern Switzerland University of Applied Sciences, St.Gallen location (OST - Ostschweizer Fachhochschule)

OST - Ostschweizer Fachhochschule, source: unknown

OST - Ostschweizer Fachhochschule is a regionally based university of applied sciences with national and international appeal. The university offers undergraduate or graduate study programs in one of the four areas of business administration, social work, technology, and nursing.

OST is involved in a research project for Innosuisse entitled “Independent Evaluation Framework for Security Tokens”, and is participating in the NRP research project “SchwyzTech — Blockchain Innovation”.

OST also organized two sold-out blockchain conferences, one in 2018 and one in 2019 named Forum Blockchain for Business (B4B), each with around 130 participants and renowned speakers from the blockchain space.

Furthermore, OST has brought out a textbook “Blockchain for Practice”, published several articles about blockchain and tokens in newspapers and magazines, and given lectures on blockchain and tokens at companies such as PwC, SIX Swiss Exchange, PostFinance, and SGKB.

The Blockchain for Business Forum features discussions on various questions such as what is Blockchain and what potential does this technology offer the company, could the company be funded by an Initial Coin Offerings, and how to implement Blockchain applications in the business processes.

University of Geneva

The University of Geneva, source: unknown

The University of Geneva is a public research university founded in 1559. Today, the university is the third-largest university in Switzerland by the number of students.

The University of Geneva offers a CAS program for people who already have knowledge of computer programming and who want to specialize in blockchain and DLT programming.

Several modules concern the programming of decentralized applications with various programming languages ​​and programming tools specific to blockchain and DLT that are taught during the training, but programming bases are necessary. The expected profiles are therefore programmers who already have experience or freshly graduated students who have already taken programming courses.

The development of decentralized applications (dApps) with Distributed Ledger Technologies (DLT) is a field that lacks qualified people all over the world and especially in Geneva where there is a political will for economic development around fintech, blockchains and other Initial Coin Offerings (ICO). Switzerland hosts the foundations of several blockchain development platforms, including Ethereum, which is one of the world’s major platforms, taught during this part-time course at University of Geneva or via video-conferences.

Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne

EPFL, source: EPFL website

EPFL (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne), with a dedicated institute on digital trust (C4DT), is engaging in a wide industry-supported initiative where blockchain is a critical component.

EPFL is widely regarded as a world-leading university. The QS World University Rankings ranks EPFL 14th in the world across all fields in their 2020/2021 ranking, whilst Times Higher Education World University Rankings ranks EPFL as the world’s 19th best school for Engineering and Technology.

Housed at EPFL, the Center for Digital Trust (C4DT) brings together 13 partners, 34 laboratories, civil society, and policy actors to collaborate, share insight, and to gain early access to trust-building technologies, building on state-of-the-art research at EPFL and beyond.

IMD Business School Lausanne

IMD Business School in Lausanne, source: IMD website

International Institute for Management Development (IMD) is a business education school located in Lausanne. It specializes in executive education, offering open enrollment programs for senior executives, as well as longer-term educational engagements that are customized for senior executives of a particular company.

IMD Business School offers a Digital Finance (DF) program with a focus on three crucial aspects of finance today: FinTech & monetization, cybersecurity, and the broader financial ecosystem.

The program explores opportunities to create value and revenue from FinTech, such as blockchain, crypto-currencies, and the tokenization of tangible/intangible assets. As part of the program, students meet with industry experts including blockchain entrepreneurs, major players from the Swiss Crypto-Valley (Zug) and financial innovators in asset management. The course comprises real-life cases, simulations, hands-on exercises, and the possibility for extensive exchange with peers and faculty.

HEC Lausanne (Faculty of Business and Economics of the University of Lausanne)

HEC Lausanne, source: HEC Lausanne Twitter

HEC Lausanne is known for its quality of teaching and research. This can be attested by the its place in international rankings, and the accreditations it has been awarded by the prestigious organizations EQUIS and AMBA.

Their Master’s in Finance offers the “Financial Entrepreneurship and Data Science” option. This option offers students a solid grounding in finance and an introduction to information technologies and data science in relation to finance. The aim is not to train programmers but to provide students with the skills they need to manage programs implementing technological tools in areas such as FinTech, crowdfunding, robo-advice, chatbots, and distributed ledgers.

In particular, The “Blockchain and distributed ledgers” course covers the basics of cryptography and its applications to cryptocurrencies; historical examples to centralized cryptocurrencies; foundations of modern decentralized cryptocurrencies; mechanics of Bitcoin platform including storage, mining, wallets, etc.; alternative platforms, including Ethereum; smart contracts; potential applications of decentralized ledgers in finance and their pros and cons. All students are encouraged to formulate opinions and discuss the implications of the aforementioned technology in real-world contexts. The lecture is supported by a Jupyter server relying on Binder.

University of Basel

The University of Basel, source: studyingswitzerland

The University of Basel heavily focuses on capital markets and the future of finance. Founded over 500 years ago in 1460, the University of Basel is Switzerland’s oldest university and among the world’s oldest surviving universities.

The Center for Innovative Finance (CIF) of the University of Basel is dedicated to researching practical issues in the fields of FinTech, Digital Banking, and Innovative Finance. The CIF investigates the potential that these new technologies have and assesses the extent to which they will affect financial markets, industry, and society. Their research focuses on the scientific analysis and practical implementation of blockchain projects, venturing, and innovative financial solutions.

Blockchain technology is considered as being the innovation of the decade. For the first time, it is possible to unequivocally record and trade ownership of virtual property without the need for a central authority — a development that has the potential to fundamentally change the existing payment infrastructure and the financial system. Add to this, the many possibilities of smart contracts, decentralized applications (DAPPs) and decentralized organizations (DAOs).

The Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts

The Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts, source: university website

The Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts (HSLU) is the steward of the world’s leading technical conference on the blockchain.

The Department of Computer Science is located in the heart of the Crypto Valley and maintains close relationships with many of the Blockchain focused companies, organizations, and start-ups established in the area.

The CAS in Blockchain on HSLU was the first professional blockchain course and was the only one in Switzerland for two years. The program has a strong focus on practical C-level lecturers from Crypto Valley and its 6th iteration of the program starts in autumn 2020.

HSLU will launch a new CAS in Crypto Finance & Cryptocurrencies in Q1 2021.

The Swiss Digital Finance Conference, since 2016 has always had two speaker slots for crypto topics in its program. It is the oldest Digital Finance Conference in Switzerland, celebrating 8th anniversary this year.

The Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts is also well known for its Blockchain Lab.

Our goal is to drive education and enhance the knowledge adoption in Blockchain and Distributed Ledger Technologies. With a broad spectrum of competences and a wide network the Blockchain Lab is engaged in both research and education. We bring academics and industry partners together to explore new use cases for Blockchain technologies. Located in the Crypto Valley the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts — School for Information Technology was one of the first Universities focusing on this disruptive topic.

The University of Applied Sciences (HSR Hochschule für Technik Rapperswil)

Hochschule für Technik Rapperswil, source: school’s website

University of Applied Sciences Rapperswil is a technical university that offers bachelor studies in electrical engineering, renewable energies, and environmental engineering, computer science, mechanical engineering/innovation, civil engineering, landscape architecture, and spatial planning.

The university remains at the forefront of DLT with regard to technical applications. The Distributed Systems and Ledgers Lab is part of the IFS Institute for Software at the HSR Hochschule für Technik Rapperswil.

We focus on applied research with the newest technology, innovative design and strong engineering in all aspects of distributed systems, including blockchains. We recognize the importance of open communication between industry, institutions, start-ups, and students. The DSL lab is striving to expand the frontier of innovation in this field by fostering productive discussion and collaboration, supplemented with ground-breaking applied scientific progress.

University of Lugano (Università Della Svizzera Italiana)

Università Della Svizzera Italiana, source: USI website

The Università Della Svizzera Italiana (USI, literally University of Italian Switzerland), sometimes referred to as the University of Lugano, in English-speaking contexts, is a public Swiss university. USI is the only university in Switzerland where the official language is Italian.

It offers a course in Blockchains & Digital Currencies. The course provides the foundations on blockchain technology, from public protocols such as Bitcoin and Ethereum to enterprise solutions, needed to understand and develop business applications. We explain the transition from traditional monetary systems to digital currencies, the use of smart contracts for financial agreements, the practice of ICOs, the cryptocurrency market, fiscal and legal issues, several use cases.

The course aims to forge a solid knowledge of cryptocurrencies and the underlying blockchain technology, from foundations to applications. The student will confront practical explanations and exercises giving them the right perspective to understand and employ this innovation in different business areas, with focus on finance.

The University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Southern Switzerland

Scuola Universitaria Professionale Della Svizzera Italiana, source: ticinonews

The University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Southern Switzerland (Scuola Universitaria Professionale Della Svizzera Italiana, SUPSI) is one of the Universities of Applied Sciences.

SUPSI aims to be a vocational, multidisciplinary, innovative, and Latin-culture university, prominent in Switzerland, a network-creation leader, both in Switzerland and internationally, in the academic, business, and political-institutional contexts.

The university offers MAS in Blockchain, Cryptocurrency, and Decentralized Technologies. This master aims at providing in-depth training to the professionals of the future to become the experts in this new technology arena.

The program is consisted out of 4 modules which focus on the cryptographic basis, smart contracts, regulatory challenges of this new market and decentralized technologies. The program teaches financial and cryptographic basis on top of which the concepts of blockchain and cryptocurrencies have been built, the paradigm and the fundamental assumptions backing such technology, appropriate tools to be used to design and develop Decentralized Applications as well as the complexities and caveats connected with smart contracts development.

The University of Applied Sciences of the Grisons

The University of Applied Sciences of the Grisons, source: unknown

The University of Applied Sciences of the Grisons (FHGR) is an innovative and entrepreneurial higher education institution with over 2,000 students.

It trains people to become responsible and skilled professionals and managers. The innovative bachelor’s program digital business management educates students in adapting, conceptualizing, and implementing future technologies.

In the elective “blockchain & distributed ledger technologies”, Mauro Casellini (CEO Bitcoin Suisse Lichtenstein AG) and Julien Hawle (Head of Blockchain Lab / Bank Frick) provide essential insights into technology and applications of DLT.

University of Liechtenstein

University of Liechtenstein, source: university’s website

The University of Liechtenstein is a public university located in the Principality of Liechtenstein. The University of Liechtenstein acts as an innovation center for shaping the future. In numerous projects and programs, it provides an impetus for the economy, politics, and society.

Liechtenstein University launched a blockchain research program in cooperation with a local bank. Part of the program will be a certificate course on blockchain and fintech.

The objective of the program is to provide students with knowledge on blockchain technology, fintech in general and digital currencies. Minimum admission criteria are either professional experience in the financial industry or an academic degree in finance or a related field.

Protocols are also increasingly engaging with the technical community, as many of the technical challenges they face are substantial and require significant work on a research-level.

The combination of world-leading academic institutions and the presence of the most important technical projects in blockchain should lead to substantial innovation in Crypto Valley.

This article is based on the research from the CV VC Top 50 Report. The full report can be downloaded here.

The CV VC Top 50 Report is created by CV VC in collaboration with its technology partners INACTA and PwC.

The CV VC Top 50 is a periodical Report on market valuation developments from Crypto Valley, which includes Switzerland and Liechtenstein. The report highlights the diverse blockchain and cryptocurrency ecosystem which consists of startups, corporations, and government entities. The CV VC Top 50 Report and CV Maps are the authoritative curators of information on of blockchain companies active in Crypto Valley.

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CV VC (Crypto Valley Venture Capital) is an early-stage venture capital investor with a focus on startups that build on Blockchain technology. In addition, CV VC operates its own incubator and ecosystem business under the CV Labs brand.

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