Last week, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab announced the launch of their Digital Currency Initiative with a focus on new research, increased student engagement, and testing of social impact applications. Today, they announced that three of the main Bitcoin Core developers (Gavin Andresen, Wladimir van der Laan, and Cory Fields) have joined the initiative. The news follows speculation of a financial crisis at the Bitcoin Foundation which has historically helped coordinate and fund core development. It is not yet clear if the MIT Media Lab intends to pay salaries directly to the developers, as the Foundation and Bitcoin companies such as BitPay and Blockstream have done in the past.
The MIT Media Lab was founded in 1985 by MIT Professor Nicholas Negroponte and former MIT President Jerome Wiesner. It is entirely industry funded, but rather than funding being tied to specific projects, companies donate towards wide-ranging research themes. This funding model gives the The MIT Media Lab has been extremely influential throughout its history with many innovations in the fields of wireless networks, web browsers and the World Wide Web.