Last Monday, during the Dutch Blockchain conference in Amsterdam, internet entrepreneur and Blockchain expert Rutger van Zuidam announced the Dutch Blockchain Hackathon; the first large scale hackathon of its kind in the Netherlands and the largest in Europe in fact. With the theme Improving society through blockchain based solution, the event is an extensive, full year programme, with the actual 54 hour hackathon held in Groningen in February. Teams and interested companies can sign up here: blockchainHackathon.eu
The programme features several meetups and activities across the country, between September 2016 and June 2017. The period before the Hackathon in February is all about discussing use cases, companies and teams getting to know each other and building a shared commitment while preparing and assessing potential risks involved.
Rutger van Zuidam: “For a large scale event like this to work, it’s very important that everyone involved knows what to expect and really commit to seeing the whole process through, from idea to realization. Our goal is to involve and strengthen the entire ecosystem of government, corporates, the scientific community, startups and grownups and really start accelerating Blockchain based solutions”, he explains. “That’s why this Hackathon is a year round innovation cycle, instead of a 54 hour weekend, to make sure everyone’s on the same page and actively involved, and great ideas to improve society can become a reality.”
Companies and organizations can submit use cases for teams to work on. The winning ideas will of course receive prize money during the Hackathon in Groningen, and will also enter the acceleration phase , from March to June, with the companies submitting those cases having committed to the acceleration phase beforehand. This will ensure that the winning ideas will be further developed into real life applications.
Blockchain is basically the main technical innovation behind bitcoin, serving as the public ledger of all bitcoin transactions. That means authentication from trusted third parties is no longer necessary. Blockchain is peer-to-peer; every user is allowed to connect to the network, send new transactions to it, verify transactions, and create new blocks, which is why it’s called permissionless. So when there’s a transaction say in Japan, that transaction is immediately visible worldwide.
Because of the underlying mathematical principles, it’s impossible to tamper with or commit fraud, and the information inside the blockchain can be verified and trusted by all users at any time. It’s a fully programmable, shared source of truth and it can be used for a lot more than just bitcoin or for the financial sector. You effectively get rid of the need for costly and complicated bureaucracy, which is what makes the technology really groundbreaking.
The World Economic Forum even called blockchain one of the seven potentially most world changing technologies, with possibles uses ranging from healthcare, the food industry, energy, smart industry, all the way to logistics and government.
Blockchain in the Netherlands
A lot of companies, organizations and entrepreneurs in the Netherlands are already taking the first steps into the world of blockchain, but most of the applications and innovations still revolve around bitcoin and blockchain applications seldom find their way to consumers/end users. There’s a lack of paying customers, which in turn creates a lack of startups, and because the technology is so new, the outcomes are sometimes uncertain, making it too risky for a lot of people in decision making positions.
And then there’s the big gap between organizations providing cases, and the people able to come up with solutions. The need for a place and a network where larger, older organizations from both public and private sector can experiment and work together with other, younger companies and create and scale up really groundbreaking innovations.
And that gap is something the Dutch Blockchain Hackathon aims to bridge. “This is also a great opportunity for the Netherlands to be among the worldwide leaders and create new Dutch online multinationals in the process. It’s really great to see so many people interested in our hackathon and willing to take the next step towards innovation and building a better world. By working together, we can really show the rest of the world what we’re able to do here and even turn our blockchain applications into a successful export product”, Rutger explains.
The people already on board
During the Dutch Blockchain Conference in Amsterdam last Monday, Startup Delta Special Envoy Neelie Kroes praised the idea of a large scale hackathon. National Commissioner for Digital Government Bas Eenhoorn is also very optimistic: “A hackathon like this makes it possible to get outside of the comfort zone, to act and collaborate in a comfortable way. The need too roll out and scale up successful solutions is just as important, because that will allow us to truly make a difference, and create valuable improvements for our citizens and our businesses.”
So far, these people, organizations and companies are already on board as founding partners:
- National Commissioner for Digital Government Bas Eenhoorn
- Dutch Digital Delta / Ministry of Economic Affairs
- ING Bank
- Chamber of Commerce
- University of Groningen
- Provincial Government of Drenthe
- Municipal Government of Groningen
And there’s also a special (preliminary) advisory board:
- Willem Vermeend (Special Envoy FinTech)
- Bas Eenhoorn (Digi-commissioner)
- René Penning de Vries (ICT Min. Economic Affairs)
- Claudia Zuiderwijk (Chairwoman Board of Advisors Chamber of Commerce)
- Peter den Oudsten (Mayor of Groningen)
The biggest Blockchain Hackathon in Europe, right here in Groningen
After the first series of meetups across the country, the actual hard work during the 54 hour hackathon will be right here in Groningen. Groningen City Alderman Joost van Keulen is of course pretty excited: “If you want to become a real Smart City, you’ll have to be a breeding ground for technological innovation. Our Stadjerspas (card system for minimum incomes) is already working on Blockchain. And of course Groningen has a growing startup ecosystem with a lot of successful scale-ups, as well as a big tradition of grassroots initiatives and international festivals like Eurosonic/Noorderslag”, he continues. “We’re really proud to be able to play a national role in innovation, hosting this hackathon in our city.”
Interested in joining up, providing use cases or be part of the founding partners? Just sign op on the website: blockchainHackathon.eu