Ateneo, MediXserve launch 1st university-based blockchain research center

Gelo Gonzales

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Ateneo, MediXserve launch 1st university-based blockchain research center
The university, led by AMBERLab's efforts, seeks to offer blockchain-related electives by January 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Ateneo de Manila University and health-tech startup MediXServe launched AMBERLab, the first university-based blockchain education and research laboratory in the Philippines, Monday, October 22. 

AMBERLab, which stands for “Ateneo-MediXserve Blockchain Education and Research Laboratory,” seeks to serve as a think tank that studies the use of blockchain technologies for and in developing countries, and the blockchain initiatives being put forth by the private sector. ([OPINION] Can the PH be a crypto country?)

Dr. Regina Estuar, the head of the lab, says efforts will be focused on social good aspects, starting with the health and agriculture sectors, among others.

The motivation is not of profit, but nation-building, by training IT programmers and coders to become world-class innovators developing solutions that address crucial societal needs, Estuar said. In AMBERLab’s case, the tool being developed is blockchain, and how it may be wielded for progress. 

Blockchain, at its simplest, is record-keeping technology in which records are immutable and free from being tampered with, thanks to a network of computers that records and verifies each transaction or addition of information.

The technology’s most famous child is the cryptocurrency bitcoin, whose dollar value exploded in late 2017 not in small part due to eager speculators looking to make money. 

Jojy Azurin, CEO of Ateneo partner firm MediXserve, emphasised that the lab is not about the kind of hype that bitcoin had previously generated. “There’s more to the blockchain that ICOs (initial coin offerings) and monitoring bitcoin prices. [The lab’s] research has other interests beyond speculation,” Azurin said.  

Azurin also praised the National Privacy Commission’s data privacy efforts and the data privacy law itself, which he said has helped create a positive environment for blockchain technology. 

MediXServe is a healthcare blockchain company, which seeks to make an app where you can access all your medical records anytime, all the way from since you were born. 

AMBERLab leaders stress that now is the time to start nurturing the blockchain industry in the country. One reason is that blockchain jobs are very much in demand now in Asia, Azurin said. Naturally, the demand from students to enrol in blockchain classes or courses has increased. Azurin, citing a US study, that about 26% of students have expressed interest in blockchain courses, much of them with a background in the social sciences. 

Ateneo, led by AMBERLab, seeks to have blockchain-related electives by January 2019.  

AMBERLab states it will have 4 focus areas:

  • Education
  • Research and innovation
  • Startup incubation
  • Community 

It will provide training on blockchain technologies, accept research proposals on the use of blockchain technology for social good, serve as an incubation center for blockchain-based startups, and build a community which includes the academe, the private sector, the government, and NGOs. 

Their website is at www.amberlab.org. – Rappler.com

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Gelo Gonzales

Gelo Gonzales is Rappler’s technology editor. He covers consumer electronics, social media, emerging tech, and video games.