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IBM Launches Accelerator Program to Kickstart Blockchain Adoption for Enterprises

Enterprise Accelerator provides support for blockchain network development across technology, business and legal considerations; also offers first access to New Software on IBM Cloud to simplify coding and speed development

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Armonk, NY (May 19, 2017) – IBM has announced the IBM Blockchain Founder Accelerator to help enterprises and enterprise developers take blockchain networks into production faster. The accelerator is the first program 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.

As an expansion of the blockchain ecosystem program, the IBM Blockchain Founder 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 program 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 Founder 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 new capabilities will help clients rapidly create highly secure, cloud-based blockchain ecosystems.

"Blockchain is a team sport. With the right network of participants collaborating on the blockchain, the benefits can be exponential," said Marie Wieck, general manager, blockchain technology, IBM. "IBM has worked on more blockchain projects than any other player in the industry and we understand the challenges organizations face and the resources needed to get blockchain networks right the first time. IBM is proactively building solutions and entire blockchain ecosystems across a broad range of industries and we are sharing our expertise and resources to help more organizations quickly set up their networks."

IBM Blockchain Founder Accelerator

Eight new 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 program provides organizations 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.

Program participants will gain access to:

  • Design Thinking Workshops – 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.
  • Founder Mentorship One-on-Ones – Technical and business mentors from IBM Research team creating Blockchain solutions and assets, 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 Cloud Services – IBM technology resources will be available to founders, including IBM Blockchain solutions 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 fully leverage the ecosystem, as well as access to IBM Bluemix Garage sessions for development.
  • Co-Marketing Potential – Participants will work with IBM and our 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 DataPassports to market was invaluable in accelerating the development and delivery of our blockchain based services," said Kevin Ellison, CEO, Schedule1.

Fast-Track Development with Pre-Built Blockchain Software Assets

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 organizations speed the deployment of code from months, to just a few days, participants in the program will have first access prior to the general availability of the code. These assets include IBM innovations incorporated into major projects across global trade digitization, 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 authorization features, and answers communication 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 authorization of member organizations 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.

Organizations can learn more about pricing and apply to the accelerator program at IBM Blockchain Founder Accelerator.


Backgrounder:

C-Suite Executives Exploring Blockchain Aim to Disrupt, Not Defend

One Third of CxOs Surveyed Have Blockchain on their Minds: IBM Study

Armonk, NY (May 19, 2017) – In the largest study to date among C-Suite executives seeking their perspective on blockchain, one third of almost 3,000 executives surveyed are using or considering blockchain in their business. According to the new IBM study, eight in ten of those exploring blockchain are investing either in response to financial shifts in their industry or for the opportunity to develop entirely new business models.

The study, part of a series of C-Suite studies, is based on findings from interviews with C-Suite executives across industries on how they intend to operate, generate revenue, and respond to customers, partners, and competitors alike using blockchain.

Conducted by IBM's Institute for Business Value, the global report compares the organizations that are actively experimenting with, piloting or implementing blockchain - the Explorers - with those not currently considering blockchain.

Historically, the biggest business risk was a competitor with new and disruptive goods or services. Today, new and non-traditional competitors with completely different business models intend to topple the incumbents. That's why some surveyed CxOs are counting on blockchain technology to foster a new generation of transactional applications that are designed to establish trust, accountability, and transparency among an ecosystem of partners, to provide them with a competitive advantage.

"With blockchain, everyone is looking at the same thing at the same time. These new trusted transactions will spawn new business models, processes and platforms where all ecosystem participants can be connected to create new value," said Brigid McDermott, IBM Vice President for Blockchain Business Development. "Consortia, regulators, and innovators will help create new standards across industries and geographies. Early adopters need to move fast to help shape how these platforms evolve."

Creating new platform business models is not for the faint of heart as six in ten Explorer CIOs surveyed admit they aren't yet fully prepared to build blockchain platforms that connect customers and partners across an ecosystem.

Yet, at the same time, some key findings from the study show:

  • Of almost 3,000 cross-industry C-suite executives surveyed, 33 percent are already actively engaged or are considering using blockchain;
  • 100 percent of Explorers expect blockchain to support their enterprise strategy in some way; 63 percent aim to use it to increase transactional transparency;
  • 78 percent of Explorers are investing in blockchain either to respond to financial shifts or to develop new business models;
  • Of those whose business models are under threat, over half of the Explorers expect to launch an entirely new business model either within their own industry or in that of someone else's;
  • 71 percent of those actively using blockchain believe industry consortia are important to advance blockchain efforts;
  • 78 percent of those actively using blockchain believe customers are important to advance blockchain efforts.

CxOs Relying on Blockchain for Business Model Innovation

The biggest strategic advantage of blockchain is enabling business model innovation, which, as one retail CMO from the United Kingdom said, "could replace the centralized business model that most companies follow today." Every Explorer surveyed expects to use blockchain to support a new enterprise strategy. And as blockchain increases trust and transparency across value chains, organizations and individuals will collaborate and compete in ways that can't yet be foreseen. For example, as evident in the IBV's prior "Healthcare rallies for blockchains: Keeping patients at the center" study, healthcare is setting a fast pace for blockchain adoption in 2017. If every vital sign or piece of wearable health data could be stored on the blockchain, the quality and coordination of care would be expected to rise and costs to fall, causing a potential shift to a patient-centric healthcare and personalized patient services.

Opening the Door to Collaboration

Since blockchain creates new ways of working, they are also springboards capable of launching organizations in new directions. Though eight in ten Explorers admit they aren't accustomed to collaborating, even selectively, with their competitors, sixty-six percent are experimenting with or implementing a new platform-based business model. By linking people, resources, and organizations in an interactive ecosystem, businesses can create entirely new forms of value. For example, organizations could support micro-payments and skip the fees imposed by intermediaries or put different types of media into the direct control of their creators, which could solve the challenges associated with global licensing and royalty payments.

IBM is working with Everledger on a new service built on a blockchain, which has adopted an ecosystem approach. Everledger can trace an individual diamond across the supply chain, from rough stones certified conflict-free to the same diamond as it's cut, polished and sold. Partners on Everledger's blockchain include insurers, financial institutions and diamond certification houses. Through Everledger's application programming interfaces (APIs), each partner can access and supply data that helps track a diamond over its lifetime. Police reports, insurance policy information and other sensitive information can be kept private and permissioned.

The business model that CEO and founder of Everledger Leanne Kemp envisions would allow all participants to reduce risk, in addition to establishing new revenue models and financial services. Banks could better finance the diamond supply chain; insurers could choose to cover the lifetime of a diamond, rather than its current owner. "We are not a disruptor," says Kemp. "We are co-evolving the industry." Everledger, she points out, demonstrates the "power of what happens when consortia come together." To date, more than a million diamonds are being traced on Everledger, with a beta project for provenance tracking in the fine wine industry launched in November 2016.

Today's news is supported by the expansion of the IBM blockchain ecosystem, with new services to help industry leaders quickly develop and deploy blockchain solutions for their business.

Read the full study.

About IBM

IBM (NYSE: IBM) is the leader in open-source blockchain solutions built for the enterprise. As an early member of Hyperledger, an open source collaborative effort created to advance cross-industry blockchain technologies, IBM is dedicated to supporting the development of openly-governed blockchains. IBM has worked with more than 400 clients across financial services, supply chains, IoT, risk management, digital rights management and healthcare to implement blockchain applications. For more information about IBM Blockchain, visit www.ibm.com/blockchain.

Source: IBM


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