Dash And Arizona State University Partners Up To Fund Research

Arizona State University (ASU) has announced a partnership with the digital currency Dash that will provide $350,000 to “accelerate research, development, and education in ways that advance blockchain transaction speed, efficiency, security, and expand its uses.” The funds will be allocated as follows:

The $350,000 is funded by Dash, via a successful treasury proposal. Director of ASU’s Blockchain Research Lab, Dragan Boscovic, commented:

When thinking about digital currencies, there’s a tendency for the community to focus on the development side of the equation. New versions of the software, updates to add new features, roadmaps and the like – these usually get far more attention than research. However, the new features that get everybody so excited are made possible by researchers who discover the means and methods to add them.

While Dash’s Core DAO (distributed autonomous organization) is focused on development, marketing and the day-to-day aspects of maintaining a digital currency, there are at least two research groups working to move the project forward. Dash Labs is a DAO founded by Dash founder Evan Duffield, based in Hong Kong, that is working to develop hardware solutions to enable on-chain scaling using massive blocks.

Likewise, researchers at ASU are working on researching ways to improve Dash and solve the problems of cryptocurrency in general. Last summer, Dash funded ASU’s Blockchain Research Lab with a $50,000 donation. Dash Core Team CEO Ryan Taylor wrote:

Taylor notes that the partnership is exclusive:

Dash isn’t the only digital currency project to partner with a major university. In the summer of 2015, MIT launched the Digital Currency Initiative and solicited donations which were used to hire three full-time Bitcoin developers. This move followed the effective collapse of the Bitcoin Foundation, which had been providing much of the funding for development. None of the funds actually come from MIT, rather, they come from outside donors and are funneled through the Digital Currency Initiative.

By May 2016, MIT had raised $900,000 to fund these developers’ salaries. Later that year, this number had risen to $2 million. This funding is crucial, as Nasdaq points out:

While some developers are willing and able to work full-time on open source projects like Bitcoin without compensation, most are not. Therefore, funding is desperately needed to maintain and advance the project.

While MIT has serious fundraising muscle, dependence on the altruism of others is always a shaky proposition. While most digital currency projects rely on donations or an initial endowment (via ICO) to fund development, Dash has chosen a different method. Dash self-funds its development team, paying developer salaries out of a portion of the block rewards.

Each month, 10% of the block rewards are reserved for successful treasury proposals. This means that as much as 6,650 DASH, worth $5.8 mln at press time, can be paid out directly by the network to those who manage to get their treasury proposals passed. Dash’s treasury system pays for marketing efforts, business development and integrations, conference sponsorships and more.

Most important, Dash’s treasury pays Dash Core developers’ salary each month. At present, Dash employs a staff of 50, including 23 developers, four project managers, eight marketing specialists and 15 other administrative employees. These team members are paid a total of $300,000 per month, directly from Dash’s treasury system. No donations are necessary, and nobody is required to work for free.

It’s this treasury system that funded the $350,000 partnership with ASU.

One of Dash’s community members who goes by the handle of “TanteStefana,” wrote that while MIT funds Bitcoin’s development, Dash funds ASU’s research lab. She points out that the direction of influence is completely different: Bitcoin is at least partially dependent on the good will and fundraising efforts of MIT. This means the university could theoretically attempt to influence the project.

With the partnership between Dash and ASU, money and influence flows in the opposite direction. It’s Dash that’s providing funding to ASU, making it impossible for the university to wield any influence over the project.