Category Archives: Blockchain funding

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South Korea to Double Blockchain Pilots for Public Sector in 2019

Public sector blockchain trials are to be doubled in 2019 by the Korea Internet and Security Agency (KISA), moving the number from 6 to 12.

Double time

Innovation in South Korea is showing no signs of slowing; on 4 September, CoinDesk Korea reported that KISA’s spokesperson Min Kyung-sik said that it would be investing over KRW 10 billion (approximately USD 9 billion) into a dozen blockchain projects, surpassing 2018’s KRW 4.2 billion which had been given to six projects.

According to Min, KISA also has plans for three or more “private-led blockchain national projects”, saying, “The block-chain public demonstration project started with the purpose of activating the domestic block-chain industry by acting as the primer of the blockchain spread in the public sector.”

KISA is a sub-organization of the Ministry of Science and ICT, which this year chose the six public sector projects from a selection of 72 pilot ideas that had been submitted from 41 institutions.

Seeding innovation

The six projects that were chosen in 2018 gave focus to online voting, livestock supply chain management, shipping logistics, real estate transactions, customs clearance and cross-border e-document distribution.

In November 2018, the results of the trials will be made public, shortly after applications for KISA’s blockchain hackathon competition close. The competition is part of the Blockchain Promotion Week event which runs from the 26 to 30 November. The week is designed to increase public awareness of the technology and display real-world applications of it.

Participants in the hackathon challenge are tasked with “providing national benefits” with blockchain, using the technology to solve social issues, create Dapps and develop innovations for both public and private industry.

Blockchain technologies have been included in a huge fund from the government. In August, the South Korean Ministry of Economy and Finance announced a KRW 5 trillion (USD 4.4 billion) fund called the “Growth through Innovation Investment Plan” for 2019.

World leader

An article published by Nasdaq makes conclusions that South Korea is the most innovative country in the world when it comes to blockchain technologies. This is drawn from the pace of which that the nation has been going through the Gartner ‘Hype Cycle Theory‘.

It is a five-stage cycle that South Korea is evidently passing through with pushes for regulations, Proof-of-Concept (PoC) projects, blockchain related summits, parliamentary debates, mainstream media adoption and the like. It appears to be only a matter of time until South Korea secures an industry-leading position ahead of the rest of the world.

 

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$800K US Government Funding Granted to Scientific Blockchain Project

The University of California-San Diego has received a staggering USD 818,433 grant for a blockchain-based project named “Open Science Chain” (OSC).

OSC is proposed as a platform that allows for researchers to access and verify the data gathered by numerous scientific experiments. The project will be led by Subhashini Sivagnanam, a software architect and researcher who presently works with the Data Enabled Scientific Computing Division at the San Diego Supercomputing Center.

Sivagnanam was awarded the funds from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to develop the project. The NSF organization has been around for quite some time and it has previously displayed interest in blockchain projects and research efforts.

In January 2017, NSF was offering millions to fund cyber-security research which included blockchain technologies/ Later that year in July, it provided over USD 400,000 in federal funding to a Princeton University researcher to research cryptocurrencies as part of a mechanism incentive study.

The funding will be officially granted on 1 September 2018 and will be available until 31 August 2021.

According to the blog post on the official NSF website, the OSC project is described as “a web-based cyberinfrastructure platform built using distributed ledger technologies that allow researchers to provide metadata and verification information about their scientific datasets and update this information as the datasets change and evolve over time in an auditable manner”.

The post adds that researches can search, verify and validate datasets, linking them to show lineage information.

Future funds

Funding of this level is becoming less of a rarity for blockchain efforts in 2018 and has the capacity to set a global precedent for other governments to follow in the footsteps of.

Perhaps the US is only now beginning to catch up in the blockchain research and education funding race. In China, four universities are to receive approximately USD 20 million to conduct an interdisciplinary research project that examines blockchain technology applications, as well as artificial intelligence (AI) and electronic payment security enhancements.

South Korea has also allocated a significant fund to drive innovation growth over the next five years or so. As part of the Growth through Innovation Investment Plan, the government will be aiming to educate and train a 10,000 strong workforce by 2022-2023 across many fields including blockchain technologies.

 

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Academia in China Receive Millions for Blockchain, E-Payment, AI Research

More funding is being pumped into the blockchain infrastructure in China as four universities are receiving a grant for an interdisciplinary research effort to examine artificial intelligence (AI), enhancing the security of electronic payment systems and blockchain technology applications.

Collaboration

The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) Business School has partnered with the University of Hong Kong (HKU), the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), and the City University of Hong Kong (CityU) to work on the research project; the project grant value sits at HKD 157 million (approximately USD 20 million).

According to a local media outlet China News, the project is to be captained by professor Tan Jiayin, a renowned academic. His most prominent work, ‘Strengthening Hong Kong’s Strategic Position as a Regional and International Business Center’, places him as a perfect candidate for the role as it gave focus to network security, blockchain and AI.

The academic institutions will be studying these emerging industries and challenges to explore and discuss the future of Hong Kong’s bid to become a global financial hub. Additionally, Tan welcomes the participation of banks as there will be relevant research into digital currencies, financial product design and distribution services.

Crypto skeptic, blockchain savant

China is taking a radically different path to the rest of the world when it comes to the multi-faceted world of blockchain technologies. The nation notoriously banned cryptocurrency trading and initial coin offerings, which led many to believe that this would be a nation untouched by the blockchain boom.

This year, however, this has come undone to some degree. Recent surveys have found that almost a quarter of Hong Kong residents have some interest in purchasing cryptocurrencies, despite the ban, with some respondents citing lack of regulation as a contributing factor to their skepticism.

There has also been a dramatic increase of blockchain-related companies emerging in China. Recent research figures show that companies with the word blockchain in their title name has risen from 555 in 2017 to 3,078 in 2018.

That figure comes as no surprise as major Chinese cities have seen eye-watering levels of governmental and private funding pumped into blockchain startups as well as other blockchain-related projects.

The city of Hangzhou received USD 1.6 billion for blockchain projects with some of the funding opening a blockchain industrial park in the city, and Nanjing City obtained USD 1.48 billion to support academic innovations, startups and established companies seeking to integrate blockchain technology into their business.

 

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