IBM launches blockchain accelerator program for enterprise

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IBM Corp. announced today the launch of the IBM Blockchain Founder Accelerator program to give select enterprise developers bring blockchain networks into production faster.

The accelerator is the first program available from IBM and will give developers access to technological support, legal and business expertise in distributed ledger technology and IBM’s own blockchain ecosystem.

In order to best serve new business ventures into blockchain technology, the Founder Accelerator program provides one-on-one mentorship and support by network founders and technologists across a range of expertise such as business case development, network membership incentives, technical development, governance and legal issues.

Blockchains, trusted and cryptographically secured distributed ledgers, have seen use across numerous industries including banking financial services, healthcare and civil government. Each application and industry brings different challenges for a development team to overcome including determination of the assets to be secured, how to secure them and often what legal and regulatory considerations need to be addressed.

“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.”

To assist program membership, Wieck added that IBM is proactively building solutions and entire blockchain ecosystems designed to operate in a variety of industries. “We are sharing our expertise and resources to help more organizations quickly set up their networks,” she said.

Kevin Ellison, chief executive officer of Schedule1 Inc., a developer of sensitive data protection solutions, said that IBM’s assistance proved “invaluable in accelerating the development and delivery of our blockchain-based services.”

Schedule1, as a provider of security and privacy solutions, Ellison explained, had to navigate the cost and complexity of complying with regulatory requirements such as the EU’s new General Data Protection Regulation. IBM would bring to bear the same expertise used to assist Schedule1 for new blockchain ventures involved in the accelerator program.

Program participants will gain access to agile design “bootcamps” designed to help developers quickly build, iterate and launch blockchain networks in Design Thinking Workshops. Technical and business mentors from IBM Research team on creating blockchain solutions will also assist participants in understanding and using IBM Hyperledger Fabric, which is IBM’s blockchain solution (including a project hosted by The Linux Foundation), to gain knowledge in blockchain systems.

IBM intends to make its own technology available to participants, including IBM Blockchain solutions via IBM’s cloud platform Bluemix and Hyperledger. To make this happen, all program members will receive up to $120,000 worth of IBM Cloud credits to allow them to make full use of IBM’s ecosystem of products.

The IBM Cloud capabilities available to program membership include Document Store, a security-rich environment for document storage; the Provenance Engine, a comprehensive history of industry assets and transactions with the ability to track asset owner, location and status; the Process Engine, a workflow orchestration system on top of the blockchain network for tamper-resistant document maintenance and authorization; and Member Management and Onboarding, identity management of members in the blockchain network, including registration and security roles of member organizations and individual users.

To get the IBM Blockchain Founder Accelerator program up and running, IBM will select eight new blockchain network founders by June 2 across a range of industries such as banking, logistics, manufacturing and retail.

Program access is first-come, first-serve and is fee-based with two tiers for participants. At tier 1 the investment cost is $100,000 and includes all of the opportunities discussed above. The tier 2 the investment cost is $250,000, which also includes a six-week business network build out with IBM’s Bluemix Garage, startup developer accelerator.

Applications for the IBM Blockchain Founder Accelerator program are now available before June 2.

Image: IBM