Blockchain, the iconic software platform for digital assets, has partnered with Imperial College London to launch the Digital Asset Research Lab – an international centre for research and application activity related to cryptocurrency and blockchain technology.

The Lab has been funded as part of a three-year partnership with the Centre for Cryptocurrency Research and Engineering (IC3RE) at Imperial, which is also currently running a project looking at how distributed ledgers could make governments more transparent.

Professor William Knottenbelt, director of IC3R, said: "As digital assets mature and we see increased adoption, the time has come to investigate the challenges surrounding this nascent but transformative technology. Blockchain is the perfect partner to help us realise that ambition. We look forward to working with Blockchain CEO Peter Smith and the team."

Smith will join the lab's steering committee and will be responsible for identifying and agreeing upon priority areas for research and prototyping. The steering committee will meet twice a year to review, consider, and approve potential projects as well as oversee the performance of current projects. Initial research projects are likely to focus on smart contracts (the applications that run on top of blockchains) and state channels, which are clever ways to scale up blockchain consensus by updating the state of transactions or contracts, without publishing everything to the chain.

Blockchain Peter Smith said: "Exponential technologies have incredible impacts on our society. They reimagine the world in ways that inspire and surprise us. Every year, from transaction growth, to new users coming online, the bitcoin network, and the blockchain have been doubling in size. We're excited to be at the leading edge of research to understand this technology's impact on the broader world."

Blockchain chose to build a partnership with Imperial because the firm is committed to encouraging and supporting the next generation of blockchain developers, said a statement. "Imperial graduate students are among the best in the world and Blockchain is excited to join to help them shape the future," added Smith.