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IBM and Columbia University to accelerate Blockchain initiatives

On Monday, IBM and Columbia University announced the launch of two acceleration programs for blockchain startups. Each accelerator will search for 10 companies at different stages of maturity, helping them build scalable blockchain solutions for the market.

People confuse the relative value of cryptocurrency (we all agree on closing our eyes recent free fall of BTC whatever is happening, right) with the underlying distributed ledger technology that fixes blockchain applications. The fact is that blockchain is real, and it's a big deal. The applications are numerous and important to explore in a world where the sources of truth defensible and reliable are few and far between. Accelerators are exactly what is needed at this time in blockchain.

"The possibilities offered by blockchain technology are seemingly endless and we are witnessing a strong dedication from technical talent to create revolutionary applications," said David Post, Managing Director of IBM Blockchain Accelerator.

I met Jules Miller, Partner, IBM Blockchain Accelerator, to get an idea of ​​these exciting developments.

ES: What's happening with IBM Blockchain Accelerator at this point? What is your role in the program?

JM: Although IBM and Columbia both have driven accelerators in the past, this is a brand new set of programs. We are organizing the inaugural IBM Blockchain Accelerator program starting in January and the inaugural inaugural program of the Columbia Blockchain Launch Accelerator starting in March, each with a cohort of 10 companies.

My role is to drive acceleration programs, along with the fantastic David Post at IBM and Satish Rao at Columbia University. I focus mainly on the IBM Blockchain Accelerator program for IBM and I have developed our strategy, created the curriculum and are now working to recruit and select companies to participate in the program. Above all, I will help each company collaborate with IBM and personalize collaborations, mentors and corporate investors for each company when they are going through the program to help them get out of it with more money, customers and connections when they have started.

ES: What is forward and exciting for the accelerator?

JM: We are excited for the first cohort of companies to come and see them be successful. The programs are successful only if they are successful, so we will work hard to ensure that each company is matched with the right technical, business, investor and customer resources to scale them successfully.

Blockchain is still in its infancy and corporate networks are still working to reach the dimensions. Our goal is to change this by throwing the brands, resources and investments of IBM and Columbia University behind a carefully selected group of startup blockchain to help them scale blockchain for the enterprise.

What is special about the IBM Blockchain Accelerator program in particular is that we are conducting a double track for business partners who will draw on the same incredible resources and curriculum at the set of levels and prepare them to collaborate with our startups and launch or grow their own blockchain initiatives. This includes the module on legal, compliance and governance, which is a fundamental part of the blockchain world. Business partners who are interested in participating in this can sign up here: https://www.f6s.com/ibmblockchain-getinvolved/apply

ES: What is the nature of the collaboration? It seems that IBM has focused more on the advanced stage while Columbia has focused on pre-seed; is there any other difference? How do these programs take advantage of the resources between IBM and Columbia?

JM: Columbia and IBM have recently collaborated for the Columbia-IBM Center for blockchain and data transparencyand accelerators are a pillar of this partnership. We will draw on the resources of each organization to support the growth of successful blockchain startups. For example, each startup will be assigned a team of at least five mentors to be used throughout their program. This includes IBM's technical and business experts, as well as Columbia computer science and MBA students. We will also share some of the research from Columbia and IBM Labs, as well as real-world case studies and best practices for market-leading blockchain networks such as the IBM Food Trust.

There are also some differences in the two programs:

IBM's IBM Blockchain Accelerator program is focused on growing companies (post-ICO A / B series, with a functioning product and paying customers) and is built to be additive and not distracting for companies in that phase.

  1. It is open to companies all over the world.
  2. There are three modules in person with only three days required per module (nine in total), with virtual intermediate support. An investment / tokeneconomics module will be in San Francisco in line with IBM's annual THINK conference, where companies will have a space to talk and two modules will take place in New York, one on the product and one on legal / governance .
  3. The goal of IBM Blockchain Accelerator is represented by networks. A unique and challenging aspect of blockchain companies is that they often create external business networks (eg Consortia, councils, non-profit government agencies) to govern operations and the economy. The creation and management of these networks, including the inclusion of the right participants in the corporate network, is the main objective of the IBM Blockchain Accelerator program.

Columbia's LAUNCH program focuses on pre-seed companies or even on ideas that have a university union in New York (for example, Columbia, NYU) and will help the founders to take off their blockchain business and their product. This will take place for eight weeks in New York.

ES: Is there a specific type of boot that you hope to apply? Something you're keeping an eye on in particular?

JM: For the IBM Blockchain Accelerator program we are looking for the world's best business blockchain companies in all industries. Our goal is to have a diverse geographic and sectoral group that can learn from each other and work with IBM, Columbia and our partners to create winning blockchain applications and corporate networks in each of their use cases.

For the legal community, we are particularly interested in digital rights / IP management, security tokens and their enabling technologies including compliance and smart contracts aligned with legal processes.


Ed Sohn is VP, Product Management and Partnerships, for the legal management services of Thomson Reuters. After more than five years as an associate with the Biglaw litigation, Ed spent two years in New Delhi, India, overseeing and innovating the outsourcing services of litigation-related legal processes. And now it focuses on providing new e-discovery solutions with technology-driven services. You can contact Ed on ediscovery, managed legal services, expats living in India, theology, chess, ST: TNG, or Chicago Bulls on edward.sohn@thomsonreuters.com or via Twitter (@ edsohn80). (The opinions expressed in his columns are his and do not reflect those of his employer, Thomson Reuters.)

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