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IBM launches blockchain accelerator

Steve Rogerson
May 25, 2017
 
IBM has launched an accelerator programme to kick-start blockchain adoption for enterprises.
 
The IBM Blockchain Founder Accelerator should help enterprises and enterprise developers take blockchain networks into production faster. The accelerator is said to be the first programme available that provides expertise and support across the technology, legal and business considerations of establishing new blockchain networks. Enterprises can join to gain exclusive access to technology and consulting expertise.
 
The accelerator is designed to address the key challenges many early adopters and enterprise developers have identified through the development of leading blockchain networks. It aims to share this collective knowledge with enterprise founders to drive the rapid adoption of production blockchains. The programme provides one-on-one mentorship and support by network founders and technologists across a range of needs such as business case development, network membership incentives, technical development, governance and legal issues.
 
In addition, members of the accelerator will receive early access to new prebuilt software assets, delivered via IBM Cloud, to help reduce the time and technical expertise needed for developers to write complex blockchain code. These assets are based on IBM experience in building blockchain networks with more than 400 clients globally. Along with IBM’s established blockchain cloud services, these capabilities should help clients rapidly create highly secure, cloud-based blockchain ecosystems.
 
“Blockchain is a team sport,” said Marie Wieck, general manager of blockchain technology at IBM. “With the right network of participants collaborating on the blockchain, the benefits can be exponential. IBM has worked on more blockchain projects than any other player in the industry and we understand the challenges organisations face and the resources needed to get blockchain networks right the first time. IBM is proactively building entire blockchain ecosystems across a broad range of industries and we are sharing our expertise and resources to help more organisations quickly set up their networks.”
 
Eight blockchain network founders will be selected by IBM for this fee-based accelerator across a range of industries such as banking, logistics, manufacturing and retail. The programme provides organisations with guidance, support and technical expertise to get their networks up and running and supporting an ecosystem of users and partners by the end of the year. Scholarships are also available.
 
Based on the principles and methodologies of IBM’s global network of Bluemix Garages, network founders will get access to agile design bootcamps designed to help them quickly build, iterate and launch the networks, leveraging the best practices and founder experience gained from over a dozen blockchain networks in production.
 
Technical and business mentors from IBM Research team, IBM Labs contributing to and helping maintain Hyperledger Fabric (a blockchain framework and one of the Hyperledger projects hosted by the Linux Foundation) and the IBM Bluemix Garage delivering blockchain projects, as well as major contributors to Hyperledger Fabric and early users of IBM Blockchain, will work directly with the participants and provide counsel including code review and business coaching.
 
IBM technology resources will be available to founders via IBM Bluemix, IBM’s cloud platform. Bluemix hosts IBM’s enterprise-ready blockchain service that supports the Hyperledger Fabric. All participants will also receive up to $120,000 worth of IBM Cloud credits to leverage the ecosystem, as well as access to IBM Bluemix Garage sessions for development.
 
Participants will work with IBM and its blockchain ecosystem to position themselves as technology leaders through joint marketing opportunities.
 
“As a founder of security and privacy solutions addressing the cost and complexity of complying with regulatory requirements such as the EU's new General Data Protection Regulation, the guidance and support that IBM provided us in bringing data passports to market was invaluable in accelerating the development and delivery of our blockchain based services,” said Kevin Ellison, CEO of Schedule.
 
New software capabilities via the IBM Cloud are based on experience from IBM’s largest blockchain initiatives and experience with production blockchain networks across shipping, manufacturing, supply chain and finance. Designed to help organisations speed the deployment of code from months to just a few days, participants in the programme will have first access prior to the general availability of the code.
 
These assets include IBM innovations incorporated into major projects across global trade digitisation, supply chain finance, transaction settlement, procurement trade finance, supply chain visibility and food safety. Initial software assets include:

  • Document store: allows network members to store and control documents and related events in a security-rich environment. This provides a source of validation to support mission-critical business processes where the lack of proper documentation can delay outcomes and potentially void the transaction.
  • Provenance engine: maintains a comprehensive history of industry assets, both physical and digital, throughout their lifecycle, from creation to decommission as immutable transactions. It provides the capability to track an asset’s owner, location and status, and any supporting documents relevant to the asset at each stage of the business process.
  • Process engine: provides all workflow orchestration on the blockchain network. It provides tamper-resistant document maintenance and authorisation features, and answers communications requests among network members to support each transaction’s integrity.
  • Member management and onboarding: enables identity management of members in the blockchain network, including the registration and authorisation of member organisations and their individual users.
The software assets will complement Hyperledger Composer, a collaboration tool for building blockchain business networks, and one of the Hyperledger projects hosted by the Linux Foundation. Hyperledger Composer is an open source tool for developing and deploying chaincode, and the efficient development of business logic in smart contracts.