The year 2016 has been kind for Blockchain startups, as the rise of Ethereum and the advancement of other protocols have resulted in the inception of new projects to tackle use cases. In addition, an event organized by the BlockchainHub of the city of Graz just gave rewards for innovative solutions in the sector.
BlockchainHub is a network of “decentralized” hubs around the world that organize workshops, conferences, meetups and other events of the nascent blockchain technology. The movement’s goal is to empower efficient peer-to-peer economy and the society as a whole by fostering innovations in the blockchain space.
There are three functioning hubs in Europe, specifically in Brussels, Berlin, and Graz. The movement is expanding its coverage to China and the US. Most recently, the Austrian city of Graz was the designated location for a competition in which five winners from a pool of eighty of the most exciting projects featuring blockchain technology were chosen.
The event, which took place on December 3, featured submissions from developers in 29 countries around the world. Twenty startups were invited to present their projects on “demo day”, and a jury of five blockchain experts was tasked to find the best ones. The criteria for selection was based on timing, teamwork, concept, and business model, with social impact being an additional important assessment point.
The members of the jury were: Shermin Voshmgir (BlockchainHub Berlin), Aaron van Wirdum (Bitcoin Magazine), Ralph Pichler (Ethereum Vienna), Johannes Grill (Bitcoin Austria), and Bernhard Weber (University of Graz).
The two winners, with a prize of €15,000, were Etherisc and Status. The first is a London-based startup focusing on the development of decentralized insurance solution based on Ethereum Blockchain Technology. The project features Oracles and Smart Contracts to make payments to insurees based on real-world events. Etherisc built their first application back in September at the DEVCON2 conference. The experiment featured a Flight Delay Insurance application to automatically pay the user in case their flight to Shangai,the city which hosted the conference, was canceled or delayed.
On the other hand, we have Status, a Singapore-based startup that built a mobile app featuring payment-enriched messages, blockchain explorer, decentralized application (Dapp) browser, and a marketplace that enables users to advertise themselves as local ETH buyers or sellers, with a discover feature to look up nearby merchants.
The prizes were sponsored by financial firms and an energy company, among others. Thomas Zeinzinger, founder of BlockchainHub Graz, and one of the event’s organizers was very pleased with the Austrian participation in the competition:
We were, of course, very excited to receive submissions from all over the world. But we are also particularly proud to see some very interesting ideas from the Austrian participants in the competition. The level of real world applications was very high and we will continue our work to raise the bar for useful Blockchain applications even further.
Christian Purrer, a speaker from Energie Steiermark (one of the event’s sponsors), said:
We were eager to support this contest, because it is clear for us, that Blockchain technology has a huge potential for the peer-to-peer energy trade. Being an innovative and strong company, we want to make sure that we evaluate the chances and possibilities of the Blochchain technology in the interest of our company and our customers.
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