The Neo ecosystem has deep ties to the University of Zurich, which has recently been rated one of the top universities globally for blockchain education and research. UZH is the largest university in Switzerland, and counts among its alumni all three members of the AxLabs team. NGD also established a partnership with UZH back in April 2020.
UZH and blockchain
CoinDesk recently released its second annual top universities ranking, with a review of 230 schools around the globe. The goal of the study was to provide a nuanced window into how universities are impacting the blockchain industry.
UZH placed #4 with an overall score of 91.7 out of 100, behind National University of Singapore (100), Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (97.7), and University of California – Berkeley (93.3)
The scores were determined based on a variety of criteria under five primary categories:
- An institution’s strength in research and academic contributions to advancing the field
- The existing blockchain offerings on campus, whether in the form of classes, educational centers, clubs, or similar programs put forward
- Employment and industry outcomes
- Cost of attendance
- Overall academic reputation
Scores reflect that UZH is among the most active blockchain universities in the world, offering ample opportunities for both course work and extra-curricular activity related to blockchain.
For example, UZH is home to the Blockchain Competence Center, comprised of researchers and professors from multiple blockchain initiatives within UZH. The center was founded in 2017 and organizes a wide range of academic, educational, and industry-related activities in the blockchain space.
AxLabs is a Swiss-based entity that is responsible for the neow3j Java-based toolkit. The team is composed of several software engineers that maintain strong connections with UZH.
Dr. Guil. Sperb Machado is the founder of AxLabs and has been a researcher and guest lecturer with UZH since 2009. He holds a Ph.D. in Computer Science from UZH, where he contributed to his first blockchain project in 2013.
Software developer Claude Müller holds an M.Sc. in Computer Science from UZH, focusing on blockchain and electronic voting and integrating zero-knowledge proofs, important for privacy. For the past three years, Müller has been primarily building tools and infrastructure for the Neo blockchain.
AxLabs’ most recent recruit, Michael Bucher also holds a B.Sc. in Computer Science from UZH and is currently finalizing his M.Sc. Bucher’s thesis focuses on finding a way to optimize on-chain fees for blockchain transactions. He is currently working on a proof-of-concept implementation of this optimization on the Neo N3 and Ethereum blockchains.
In a conversation with Neo News Today, Müller said:
“The CoinDesk methodology reflects the reality. It seems that UZH is one of the most active educational institutions shaping the blockchain research and industry. It has many opportunities for students to pursue qualifications in decentralized systems, not only within the Computer Science course but also in Economics, Law, and other disciplines. This builds interdisciplinary knowledge and ultimately fosters innovation.”
Neo & UZH
In April 2020, NGD announced the establishment of a long-term partnership with UZH “to promote blockchain technology education, research, and usage throughout Europe.” Although NGD led the initiative, they also leveraged local support from AxLabs. Machado noted that his proximity to the university was useful for NGD’s pitch. “We’re not just Neo. We also have community developers (in this case, neow3j) that are a part of the University of Zürich ecosystem – that know the audience and have an academic research background.”
Neo is also featured in a Blockchain and Overlay Networks lecture, where students get an overview of Neo’s characteristics and technical features – among other chains, like Ethereum and Bitcoin.
Beyond AxLabs’ ties to UZH, Neo has also invested time and energy into establishing a presence in Switzerland. In 2018, NGD established an office in the Trust Square blockchain hub in Zürich, which has since been led by NGD ecosystem growth director, Lili Zhao. Throughout its time of operation, NGD Zürich has facilitated various events such as hackathons, multi-day developer trainings, and a multitude of academic outreach.
The CoinDesk article can be found at the link below: