a16z Crypto is launching an academic research lab focused on web3

Venture capital giant Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) is diving deeper into the crypto market with the launch of a new academic lab dedicated to tackling research problems facing the fast-growing digital asset industry. 

Dubbed a16z Crypto Research, the new unit will be led by Tim Roughgarden, a prominent academic expert in game theory who has been a professor at both Stanford and Columbia. He joined a16z as a research advisor last year and will now take the title of head of research.

Roughgarden's goal is to create a university-like effort within the firm akin to Bell Labs or DeepMind, the artificial intelligence research subsidiary of Google's parent company Alphabet. 

"It is clear that web3 is a new scientific breakthrough that brings together ideas from computer sience, finance, economics and the humanities," noted Ali Yahya, a general partner at Andreessen Horowitz, in an interview with The Block. 

The new lab will aim to pinpoint and address the fundamental research problems facing the pursuit of mainstream crypto adoption. In some instances, the group may develop new tools that can help a16z portfolio companies grow their business. The investment firm Paradigm has pursued a similar strategy. For instance, Paradigm recently worked with Rick and Morty co-creator Justin Roiland on a new mechanism for non-fungible token (NFT) sales.