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MIT-Linked Startup, Learning Machine, Raises $3 Million to Put Digital Diplomas on Blockchain

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A blockchain startup company that has links with Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Learning Machine, has announced that it has raised $3 million in seed funding.

The round was led by PTB Ventures and included strategic investments from Omidyar Network and Learn Capital. The seed round will allow Learning Machine to expand its work as a leader in providing secure, recipient-owned and independently verifiable digital records.

The funding comes months after MIT revealed that it had partnered with Learning Machine on the digital diploma initiative, which is based on the open-source Blockcerts standard. The partnership with MIT led other academic institutions and corporations to initiate their own Blockcerts-based initiatives, led by the University of Melbourne and the government of Malta. Blockcerts allows institutions to have a bird’s-eye view of their credentialing operations, including detailed, actionable analytics for policy-making, workforce development and alumni relations.

According to Learning Machine’s Vice President of business development Natalie Smolenski, the software tool can be used to link academic certifications to different blockchains – including Bitcoin and Ethereum – with the goal of eliminating degree forgery.

Learning Machine looks forward to giving their customers the leeway to use any blockchain they wish. In an interview with PRNewswire, Smolenski noted that the company can’t dictate the type of blockchain to use to customers, as some prefer public chains while others are for the private ones. She said,

Right now in part I think because blockchain technology is still relatively new, there are a lot of high or strong emotions about which blockchain is better than another and blockchain has kind of engendered these fierce loyalties. We don’t want to pick winners with blockchain. We do generally recommend users pick blockchains with a proven record but ultimately you don’t want to prescribe to customers which blockchain they should use.

Blockchain Is the Solution to a Range of Problems 

Smolenski argued that corporate organizations and academic institutions will increasingly rely on blockchain. She predicted that their technology will be one of the most sought-after in the near future.

Dave Fields, the round’s lead investor and founding partner of PTB Ventures, said that the reason his company invested in Learning Machine was because the globe was going digital. He is the of the view that individuals, organizations and labor markets are looking for a way to store academic and professional credentials that is tamper-proof and instantly verifiable – irrespective of one’s location.

The need for translatable, interoperable and easily verifiable digital credentials could not be more pressing for economic growth and development. Fields explained,

The blockchain has arisen as an infrastructure that helps meet this need,

Do you think Learning Machine will revolutionize the way individuals and organizations manage academic and professional credentials? Let us know in the comments section.   

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