Providing independent research is very important, particularly for cryptocurrencies right now with the rapidly growing user base driven by dramatic price appreciation. There is a lot of hype and excitement around this technology and I think academics can play an important role in providing empirical research and balanced perspectives.
And I think academic engagement with the private and public sectors is also important. For example, I am currently working with a branch of the UK government on how blockchain technology can be used to promote safety and security. Unique data can come from engagement with the private sector, which can result in interesting research and more understanding. Engagement with projects is a two way street: when I see what’s happening in public and private sectors, I become better educated and this enhances my research. The private and public sectors may not have the fully capacity to do the research we can do at universities.
Garrick Hileman and Michel Rauchs released the 2017 Global Blockchain Benchmarking Study, which can be downloaded as a PDF here: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3040224.
You can read the brief summary of their study here: https://insight.jbs.cam.ac.uk/2017/central-banks-are-trialling-blockchain/
The above interview was conducted on 12 December, 2017.