Widely followed cryptocurrency start-up Ripple is shelling out millions to some top universities to speed up adoption of blockchain technology.

The company announced a partnership with 17 schools Monday, including the University of North Carolina, MIT and the University of Pennsylvania. Through the “University Blockchain Research Initiative” program, Ripple will donate $50 million for research and development in blockchain, cryptocurrency and digital payments.

The donation is in dollars and not the cryptocurrency, the company said.

“As globalization increases, so does the demand for technological solutions and talent to solve the world’s hardest financial problems, such as retail remittances,” Eric van Miltenburg, Ripple’s SVP of business operations, said in an email.

The company said the initiative was launched in part because of a demand for jobs. More than 4,500 job openings with the terms “blockchain” or “cryptocurrency” were posted on LinkedIn last year, Ripple said, a 150 percent increase from a year earlier.

Blockchain is the technology that underpins cryptocurrencies like bitcoin. While there are countless uses for that technology, Ripple’s focus is on real-time transaction settlements for banks. It has announced partnerships with U.S. money transfer giants MoneyGram and Western Union as well as American Express and Santander.

Ripple is officially the name of the San Francisco-based company, which is developing a network for faster global financial payments. XRP is the name of the digital token that financial institutions on the network can use to transact quickly.

Some university research and projects will involve Ripple’s technology and the cryptocurrency XRP but it is not a requirement, the company said.

The cryptocurrency was trading near 65 cents Monday, according to CoinDesk. XRP is one of the worst performing digital currencies in 2018, down more than 70 percent year to date.

Ripple owns about 60 billion of the 100 billion XRP ever made, bringing its market cap based on Monday’s price and its holdings alone close to $39 billion.

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