IBM continues its backing of blockchain technology with the announcement of an ‘accelerator program’ to help businesses seeking to utilise the fledgling technology.
The accelerator program will provide both practical assistance including workshops and mentorships to both developers and businesses seeking to take blockchain networks into production.
It comes after IBM in March launched a cloud-based enterprise-ready Blockchain service to enable firms to build applications on top of the Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger Fabric code set within the IBM Cloud.
IBM said that its accelerator program is the first of its kind to offer expertise and support for firms seeking to build new blockchain networks. There are no financial incentives on offer, but rather joining will provide firms with “exclusive access to technology and consulting expertise”.
IBM hopes that by joining, the scheme will firms tackle the key challenges that has so far been identified by those developing blockchain networks.
IBM for its part has already built blockchain networks with more than 400 clients globally.
The thinking is that this collective knowledge will be shared with enterprises, and members will receive early access to new prebuilt software assets, delivered via IBM Cloud.
But what exactly is IBM offering here? Well program participants will gain access to design thinking workshops, which are essentially being touted as design “bootcamps” to help members quickly build and launch the networks, using best practices and experience gained from over a dozen blockchain networks in production.
There is also a mentorship one-on-one offering, where technical and business mentors from IBM who have created blockchain systems and assets will work directly with participants and provide advice including code review and business coaching.
And then is there is IBM Cloud Services, as these resources will be available to founders, including IBM Blockchain solutions via IBM Bluemix, IBM’s cloud platform.
It should be remembered that Bluemix hosts IBM’s enterprise-ready blockchain service that supports the Hyperledger Fabric. Participants will also receive up to $120,000 (£92,321) worth of IBM Cloud credits as a further inducement.
And finally there is a marketing angle, as firms will be able to “position themselves as technology leaders through joint marketing opportunities.”
“Blockchain is a team sport,” explained Marie Wieck, general manager of blockchain technology at IBM. “With the right network of participants collaborating on the blockchain, the benefits can be exponential.”
“IBM has worked on more blockchain projects than any other player in the industry and we understand the challenges organisations face and the resources needed to get blockchain networks right the first time,” she added. “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 organisations quickly set up their networks.”
IBM said that eight new blockchain network founders will be selected for this fee-based accelerator across a range of industries such as banking, logistics, manufacturing and retail. Scholarships are also available.
Blockchain is most commonly known as the technology underpinning the digital currency Bitcoin. Essentially it is a highly secure database system which enables an organisation to create a digital ledger of information and share it with multiple parties.
IBM’s commitment to blockchain technology is well known. Indeed, it already has a testing service and has been a big supporter of the Hyperledger Project in order to encourage the growth of a blockchain ecosystem on its Bluemix developer cloud.
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