Competitions are a great way to encourage innovation; in the blockchain sector, there is a growing trend for companies to offer prizes for participants to use distributed ledger technology (DLT) to devise solutions for businesses and society.
On Tuesday, the decentralised asset management provider Melonport said they will host a three-day hackathon for developers to come up with blockchain solutions for conventional IT infrastructure.
Taking place in Switzerland’s Zug, also known as ‘Crypto Valley,’ next month, the Reinvest Finance Hackathon is open to developers and will offer cash-prizes for the winner and runners-up, as well as possible offers to work in Melonport for those who distinguish themselves.
“As long as you have a decent grasp of blockchain and a measure of practical experience in computer science, we’re pretty sure you can bring a unique perspective to the discussion,” says Melonport CEO Mona El Isa.
Coinciding with yesterday’s announcement, Melonport’s co-founder Rito Trinkler announced the launch of the Trinkler Fellowship, which will offer 50,000 CHF (Swiss franc) grants for talented individuals to pursue projects outside the normal confines of work or education.
Why does this matter?
Just a couple of weeks ago, the EU announced it would host its own ‘blockathon’ and invited developers to create solutions with blockchain technology that could be used to prove a product’s authenticity.
In the past, this same method lay behind the rapid technological development of driverless cars.
Way back in 2004, the US’ Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) set a competition for teams to build and develop autonomous vehicles.
Although all the cars broke down or even caught-fire, it not only highlighted that a self-driving car could be possible, it created a community that could collaborate and work together to make them a reality.
Blockchain developers are in incredibly high demand at the moment, and so competitions like these are also perfect opportunities for companies like Melonport to identify key talent and skills that it can then use to help develop its platform and business.
That said, Trinkler believes that blockchain technology, which he recently said “cannot be undone“, is the ideal platform for which independent thinkers can develop the correct tools to address key global problems.
By offering financial security, his Foundation hopes will encourage skilled developers and free thinkers to develop new innovative ways of blockchain technology that can benefit mankind.
This altruistic take on innovation already underpins nonprofits such as the XPRIZE, which invites teams to come up with solutions in arenas as diverse as private space travel and oil cleanups
Technological innovations seldom come about in board meetings – and not always in well-funded company labs.
Using competitions that essentially enable highly-skilled individuals to freely develop their own solutions is therefore creating an opportunity to effectively ‘brainstorm’ ideas that can identify problems with DLT, determining future applications and bringing together a community to collaborate in the future.
In the same year that DARPA challenged developers to devise driverless cars, Will Smith was speeding around Chicago in a self-driving car in the movie I, Robot based on Isaac Asimov’s stories. set in 2030 it showed a future that seemed a long, long way from the brand-new Pontiac Aztek (made famous by its starring role in Breaking Bad).
And yet, driverless cars were on the streets of San Francisco within a dozen years…
Will competitions and prizes make the same impact in the blockchain world?