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Hamburg aims to become blockchain city

Hotspot of European blockchain scene

Highlights of the upcoming Blockchain Summer were presented Tuesday (August 13) during a press conference in the Tanzenden Türme on Hamburg’s Reeperbahn. Organized by the Ministry for Economics, several large conferences will be held in Hamburg from Friday through Saturday (August 16-17, 2019) in the Chamber of Commerce. The term blockchain is often equated with crypto currencies and business models in a legally grey area. Hamburg is keen to change this perception and is counting increasingly on Distributed Ledger Technology in its bid to become a blockchain hotspot. Emphasis is also on the economic and social opportunities of database technology. At the same time, Hamburg is working on real-life applications in the fields of energy, logistics and industry. The event is being held under the auspices of Dr. Peter Tschentscher, Mayor of Hamburg, which hosts Germany’s biggest blockchain sector with more than 50 start-ups. Hamburg News takes a look at the city’s blockchain ecosystem.

Future of Social Economics – motto of Blockchance 2019

Fabian Friedrich, a Hamburg-based blockchain expert and host of Blockchance 2019, expressed his belief in the technology’s disruptive power in an interview with Hamburg News. Around 750 delegates, 1,500 trade fair visitors and more than 75 keynote speakers from technology, science, business and the financial industry are expected at the conference. As initiator of the Hanseatic Blockchain Institute and founder of the Blockchance Campus in Finhaven, Friedrich is no stranger to the local blockchain community. Christian Schultze-Wolters, Division Manager IBM Blockchain Solutions and Mark Buckley, Ambassador of the U.N. Sustainability Goals (SDGs) and member of the Expert Network of the World Economic Forum are among the keynote speakers expected in Hamburg this summer. Newcomers can take part in the Blockchain Kindergarten, which will introduce the topic playfully. Also, Vanessa Grellert, Managing Director of the U.S. blockchain company Consensys, will talk about the future of banking. The event will be rounded off by the launch of BlockRock Ventures, the first privately initiated blockchain accelerator in Hamburg and a start-up pitch. Plans are also being laid for two investment funds of EUR 5 million euros and EUR 30 million targeting start-ups in the pre-seed and early-stage phases as well as a support programme lasting up to two and a half years.

Hamburg to become key blockchain location

The Moinblockchain conference on October 18, 2019 at the HSBA Innovation Campus is likely to be among this year’s other highlights. The non-profit organising association, Moinworld, has set itself the goal of increasing the proportion of women in the IT sector* to 50 per cent. The latest blockchain technology and applications will be discussed in panels and workshops.

In late July, the senate presented a first, comprehensive report on Hamburg’s blockchain activities. The technology has the potential to “positively impact” several parts of commerce and society in Hamburg and to open up “new research horizons”, the report found. The senate has set itself the goal of promoting blockchain activities and establishing Hamburg as a pivotal centre of blockchain. To achieve this objective, the regional innovation strategy is being continued and earlier in 2019, the Ministry of Economics, Transport and Innovation held talks to intensify the exchange between business, science and society.

Creating added value

Commenting on the strategy, Michael Westhagemann, Senator for Economics, noted: “Real added value is created here in the form of efficiency gains and additional security through innovative blockchain applications in sectors such as energy, logistics and industry.” A large number of blockchain projects are already being piloted and implemented in Hamburg. The Energy Trading Platform Enerchain went live in late May after two years of development and testing. The potential of blockchain technology for the digitalization of freight documents is being examined in the Digital Hub Logistics as part of the Hansebloc project. And security solutions for 3D printing are to be developed as part of the SAMPL project backed by universities in Hamburg.

Meet-ups, private initiatives and research institutions

The Hamburg Blockchain network benefits from all kinds of meetings such as the Innovation Forum Hamburg or the Blockchain Mondays organized by the Hanseatic Blockchain Institute. The association sees itself as a mouthpiece for the local community. Apart from private figures, universities play a fundamental role in the Hanseatic blockchain ecosystem. In 2018, the Blockchain Research Lab was established near the University of Hamburg. The non-profit company promotes independent science and research into blockchain technology. Blockchain will probably morph into a basic technology, according to Lennart Ante, co-founder of the Blockchain Research Lab and research associate at the University of Hamburg in an interview with Hamburg News.

Wide range of services and information

Companies can also contact the Hamburg Invest Wirtschaftsförderungsgesellschaft mbH’s one stop agency for information. Hamburg Marketing GmbH is raising the visibility of pilot projects on the platform while the Mittelstand 4.0-Kompetenzzentrum Hamburg is holding several informative events about blockchain applications. Plans are also being laid to draft a guideline on the potential of blockchain for SMEs.

Sources and further information:

What is a blockchain?

A blockchain is a tamper-proof, decentralized data structure in which transactions are logged in chronological order and displayed in a traceable, unchangeable manner without a central instance. This is a form of Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT).

Melissa KnausAug. 14, 2019
digitalisierung zukunftstechnologie