Blog > 2022 > November > Cardano builder IOG and University of Edinburgh launch Zero-Knowledge Lab to drive greater blockchain scalability and security

Cardano builder IOG and University of Edinburgh launch Zero-Knowledge Lab to drive greater blockchain scalability and security

18 November 2022 Fernando Sanchez 4 mins read

Cardano builder IOG and University of Edinburgh launch Zero-Knowledge Lab to drive greater blockchain scalability and security
  • VNew ZK-Lab will focus on researching Zero Knowledge Protocol Technology, seen by many as the future of blockchain confidentiality
  • This is the second lab that IOG and the University of Edinburgh have partnered to open

Edinburgh, UK, November 18, 2022: A new research lab focused on the development of Zero Knowledge Protocol technology has today launched at the University of Edinburgh, one of the leading Universities in the United Kingdom. The Laboratory opens with funding from Input Output Global, Inc. (IOG), one of the creators of Cardano, the world-leading sustainable blockchain platform. Its purpose will be to investigate Zero-Knowledge Proofs and other Zero-Knowledge Protocols in a principled manner.

Zero-Knowledge Proofs, and more generally Zero-Knowledge Protocols, are techniques in cryptography that make blockchains scalable, more secure, and enhance confidentiality, allowing information to be verified without revealing it to anyone but the recipient. For instance, you could prove your eligibility to work to a potential employer without needing to share detailed information on your education credentials, address and place of birth. Its development could be key in creating even more secure blockchain networks and a key component in other Web3 projects.

Zero Knowledge Protocols go beyond safeguarding personal identification by simply putting control of users’ data back in their own hands. In a post-Cambridge Analytica era, concerns around the misuse of personal data—particularly from the very tech giants who created this perfect storm—are front and center. This is why Zero Knowledge Protocols are vital in transforming industries like supply chains, healthcare, finance, and others where the security of private information is essential.

The funding from IOG will enable academics, students, and industry partners, such as IOG, to secure the resources to conduct research into the foundations and applications of zero knowledge. The Lab will have a particular focus on scaling techniques to larger systems, both with regard to security and performance. The Zero Knowledge Lab (ZK-Lab) will be based in the University of Edinburgh’s School of Informatics.

As well as researching Zero Knowledge Proofs, the ZK-Lab will investigate a range of cryptographic and trusted hardware techniques and protocols to help achieve the goal of creating a more secure, private, and decentralized blockchain. One of these will be Multi Party Computations, which aims to create methods for parties to jointly compute a function over their inputs while keeping them private.

The funding comes as part of IOG’s goal to drive forward Zero Knowledge Protocol development, building on its well established researchers and library of over 160 papers. As well as financing the ZK-Lab, IOG also recently announced the appointment of Zero- Knowledge Protocol expert, Dr. Vanishree Rao, as its Head of Applied Cryptography, demonstrating its commitment to advancing the technology.

This is the second laboratory that IOG has partnered with the University of Edinburgh to open. It follows the launch of The Blockchain Lab in 2017, which brings together academics and students to collaborate on blockchain research and development, with a focus on industry inspired problems

Dr. Vanishree Rao, Head of Applied Cryptography at IOG, said: “Academic, peer-reviewed research and development is at the heart of everything we do at IOG, which we believe is vital to creating a safe, secure, and effective blockchain ecosystem. This is why we continue to invest in academic institutions, from the University of Edinburgh to Stanford University, to help provide the best minds with the tools and resources to drive new innovations.

“Zero Knowledge Proof technology has massive potential, and the ZK-Lab will be a hub to continue its development, providing academics and students with the space, time, and financing to help it grow and develop. It also allows us to continue to grow our relationship with the University of Edinburgh, which we are proud to be working with to create a better blockchain for all.”

Dr. Markulf Kohlweiss, Director of Zero-Knowledge Lab, said: “Zero Knowledge Proof technology and its potential to protect our data online, while also providing for secure and trustworthy transactions and interactions, has fascinated me since before my graduation from a small Austrian university. It is truly amazing to see the theoretical potential of zero-knowledge being realized in practice.

“The investment into the ZK-Lab will allow my team to not only further investigate the foundations of Zero-Knowledge Proofs, but also its applications for privacy-enhancing technologies in areas such as post quantum cryptography. Through this work, we will help develop blockchain technology that is more private, secure and benefits everyone.”