Crypto venture capital firm Paradigm announced on Tuesday the launch of a Policy Lab it says will be the "first of its kind" gathering place for academics, policy experts, lawyers and technologists.
"Over the past year, Paradigm has established itself as a policy leader, engaged in everything from fighting for crypto in court, to convening opinion leaders, to publishing policy-centric research," Policy Lab co-heads Rodrigo Seira and Brendan Malone wrote in a blog post, adding that the group will produce "cutting-edge research, commentary and advocacy on the most critical policy issues facing crypto and other frontier technologies."
As part of the launch effort, the Paradigm Policy Lab named two inaugural academic fellows, with Primavera De Filippi from Harvard University's Berkman Klein Center and Agostino Capponi from Columbia University set to study "regulatory equivalence" — a term used to describe "the comparability of legally-bounded and technologically-bounded systems and how the same policy outcomes can be achieved through regulation or through technological architecture."
Paradigm has been no stranger when it comes to chiming in on some of the biggest issues facing the industry on the regulatory front. In August, it said it was concerned about possible overreach by the Securities and Exchange Commission and filed an amicus brief in support of crypto exchange Coinbase.
In July, the venture firm announced the hiring of Alexander Grieve as its new government relations lead as part of an ongoing push for clearer regulations.
Gaps to fill
"The core goal of the lab is to impact policy in the medium- to long-term," Seira told The Block in an interview. "And the gap that we've identified, that we're trying to fill, is we think there's missing kind of high quality, technical data-driven research and data sets. So our hope is that the lab can produce, with its collaborators, base material that can then inform thoughtful policy."
Seira mentioned that some of Paradigm's past efforts in filing amicus briefs have already appeared to pay dividends, especially in a recent high-profile case involving Ripple Labs.
"We're at a very critical point right now in the U.S. discourse on crypto policy," he continued. "We've started to see some important big bills introduced in both the House and the Senate. And I think people realize that the status quo is totally broken. But there's still not a lot of technical research and data that people can look to, to make informed choices."
The Policy Lab will also host a Research Hub that will work to "uncover and tackle discrete policy questions relevant to the future of the crypto ecosystem."
"We view this research (and mechanism) as essential to help policy makers address the novel issues raised by crypto while fostering innovation in the United States," Seira and Malone wrote in the blog post. "In line with Paradigm's values, the program is designed to be highly collaborative and will be open to the public."
The Policy Lab Research Hub intends to accept user submissions, with approved proposals for the research agenda eligible for grant funding of up to $5,000.
Among topics it currently wants to explore include traditional finance costs connected to hacks and energy consumption. It's also interested in studying the number of crypto jobs that have left each U.S. state and the economic impact beyond jobs of developers and projects moving offshore.
'Good, rigorous information'
"We're just genuinely interested in getting good, rigorous information on that," Malone told The Block. "If you ask people what it costs to produce a paper dollar, or move physical coins around the country, there aren't any good estimates for that. And I think having that as sort of counterfactual to what some of the crypto components look like is just useful in general."
Malone, who worked at the Federal Reserve Board before joining Paradigm, said he hoped the Policy Lab could improve the quality of the data being used by regulators.
"Having worked in these agencies, I know for a fact that the people that work there have the tool sets to engage in a really deep and hands on manner, but for some reason they're not doing that," he said. "And part of the goal here is for us to create a gathering place for policymakers, academics and technologists, to come together, get some of what we've learned as a very crypto native firm, and help bridge the gap between those technical policymakers who have the tools but maybe not the crypto specific contexts."
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