Miami Herbert Business School leads initiatives in cryptocurrency and blockchain

Miami Herbert Business School leads initiatives in cryptocurrency and blockchain

By Cibeles Duran

Miami Herbert Business School leads initiatives in cryptocurrency and blockchain

By Cibeles Duran
Leadership and faculty welcome Miami’s new standing as a national hub for business technology and entrepreneurship.

Miami Herbert Business School seizes its role as the leading research and teaching institution in the heart of Miami’s thriving cryptocurrency and blockchain industry. A dynamic ecosystem within the digital technology space flourishes as high startup activity, international reach, and regulatory incentives draw executives, investors, and innovators to the city. In tune with the growth, Miami Herbert’s governance team and faculty already lead academic programming, research, and initiatives to prepare future leaders and further an understanding of the booming field.

“Crypto and blockchain are allowing for new business models, and a major part of the action is happening every day within our city,” says Miami Herbert Dean John Quelch. “We have prepared well for the intensity of activity by developing a well-respected business technology department and supporting our local community through the highest level of educational and scholarly resources.”

Among the major developments, Quelch and the business technology faculty prepare to reposition the School’s Intelligent Computer Systems Research Institute. The re-imagined center will focus on research, case studies, and executive development within AI, blockchain and cryptocurrency, and related intelligent systems. With secured initial funding, the leadership team is currently recruiting a director and forming an advisory board for a tentative launch this fall. 

“The institute will be about bold leadership through the dissemination of knowledge at the executive level, top-level research, and engaged scholarship,” says Business Technology Department Chair and Professor Robert Plant. “We are excited about what is to come, which will involve a closer look at new concepts like smart connected devices and helium tokens.”

Plans also include a one-day academic cryptocurrency and blockchain conference, a hackathon, a speaker series, and short, technical courses for practitioners that seek new or enhanced skills.

Institute programs will complement cutting-edge research already underway at the business school. Faculty examine top-of-mind issues encompassing ethics and security, data privacy, blockchain in health care, and the emergence of DAOs (decentralized autonomous organizations), a new form of organization that creates opportunities for peer-to-peer transactions without intermediaries.

Faculty also collaborate with one of the largest Bitcoin mining companies in North America on a teaching case related to the mining of today’s largest cryptocurrency. In a separate collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the researchers analyze the impact of TradeLens, a blockchain-enabled shipping solution jointly developed by Maersk and IBM in 2018.

“Many people may view crypto as only a form of market speculation, but it is also about the use of blockchain for private endeavors such as in the global supply chain through TradeLens,” explains Professor of Business Technology Ola Henfridsson, the Schein Family endowed chair and one of the researchers involved in the study.

The energy toward transformative technology extends to curricula across undergraduate and graduate programs. Undergraduate students get an early introduction through regular content and electives, and additional coverage as fintech majors or scholars of the Foote Fellows Honors Program.

At the graduate level, electives span themes in technology and innovation, the Internet of Value, programming for distributed systems, cloud technology, management of digital transformation, and coming soon, smart contracts and product management. The concentrated classes cover critical topics such as risk assessment, regulatory limitations, and Web 3.0, giving MBA and specialized master’s students the skills necessary for coveted product management roles.

“MBA students learn that they need to be able to speak to data scientists, to the people who develop new technologies and products, while at the same time seeing how to transform their work into value propositions for customers. That’s exactly what one can do with such technology and with the right skills,” Henfridsson says.

Students receive the added value of hearing directly from leaders and trailblazers in the local blockchain community. Recent speaker events organized by the student-led Cryptocurrency Club and the Herbert Half Hour speaker series have featured alumnus Scott Spiegel, founder of BitBasel and the Miami community lead for the Florida Blockchain Business Association, alumnus Kyle Sonlin, founding partner and CEO of Security Token Group, and Jason Albanese, general partner and CEO of Lightning Capital, a leading crypto asset management firm.

Further blockchain-related initiatives include Miami Herbert’s new Fintech Boot Camp and, upcoming in the fall, the next UScale accelerator program, which will bring to campus innovators from around the world with crypto-tech products ready for entry into the United States market.

All efforts cultivate talent for continued industry growth and support a city in the spotlight as crypto and blockchain technology undergoes, as Henfridsson describes, “the fastest adoption of any technology since the internet.”