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Presentations, Ideas and two Winners. A Report from the Bloomen Ideathon

The Bloomen consortium gathered in Nicosia, Cyprus in January 2020 for a meeting of all partners and the 2nd “Pitstop”, a community event structured to listen to the community. What are issues, what are ideas, what are the challenges of using Blockchain for real-world problems?

On the 23rd and 24th of January, academics, professionals and individuals from the community gathered at the Bloomen Blockchain and Media IDEAthon at the Semeli Hotel, Nicosia, Cyprus. The event was organised by Bloomen and facilitated by local TV station ANTENNA, a partner in the Bloomen consortium. It was the second of a series of such community events and an important “pitstop” for the Bloomen consortium as a whole.

Refining ideas for Blockchain

Why are such discussions helpful? Due to the highly innovative nature of blockchain technology, professionals, researchers & technology enthusiasts are eager to learn and practice new developments. Plus: Blockchain technology and ideas for application can be complex to describe, so telling and re-telling the key points of such ideas has value listeners and the presenters as well.

Through this second Bloomen event, the consortium helped to provide an environment where groups and individuals would practice their knowledge and share their expertise through an idea marathon, whereby what was previously considered as theory, would perhaps become a practical reality through a description participants gave in their presentations.

Input from IT experts

At the start local IT management leaders provided their views of Blockchain benefits and challenges to implementation. Mr. Thrasos Thrasyvoulou, Director, Business Development, Oracle EMEA talked about “Real-Life Blockchain Use Cases across Industries”. The presentation included many examples of Blockchain projects which are already active in practice. One example: How Blockchain can be used to track minerals from source to use by industry. 

To provide context and a connection to Bloomen members of the Bloomen consortium provided brief insights into the general scope of Bloomen as a research project. This intro was followed by the three use case leaders who provided an overview of current development status and goals.  

Different countries, different backgrounds

To hear as many good ideas and approaches as possible the Bloomen blockchain and media IDEAthon, the consortium wanted to have a diverse group of individuals participating, meaning not only coming from different countries but also to have both men and women, different age groups, as well as from different professional backgrounds ranging from the creative, legal, professional services & academic industry.

Motivated participants

The enthusiasm of the invited participants was apparent during the private communications ANTENNA had with them prior to the event, but also it was reflected through the fact that while there were a couple of no-shows after the registrations, 5 groups attended the full two-day event, something that means that they took all this time to be away from the office, to be together with the Bloomen consortium at this fun event. Of course, there were also people who were just observers and wanted to learn more about the environment, rather than to participate in the IDEAthon actively.

First day: Getting to know each other

Since the IDEAthon was focused on bringing community together and having interesting discussions, presentations as well as include a competition-like segment where there would be both pitches by teams as well as a judge panel to select the best idea(s) to be awarded with a €1,000, prize, a lot of preparatory work would have to take place.

At the end five participants took the stage to present their individual ideas and concepts.

Five presentations – short summary

Evdokia Markou

The first person to present was Ms. Evdokia Markou from the Cyprus Blockchain Association, who described a platform that uses blockchain technology to tackle the issue of fake news. As an experienced lawyer, Ms. Markou incorporated some procedures that involved legal terms and processes, and it was interesting to see her perspective on how this problem was to be addressed.

 

 

 

 

Maksim Vasylkof

The next presentation was from Mr Maksym Vasylkoff from Vasylkoff Ltd, who presented an application called Smart 16, which by using blockchain technology, his smart identity app would promote and establish the electronic signature. This presentation was enhanced further from his previous participation in the Fintech Hackathon organized by the Bank of Cyprus, that taken place 2 months earlier, and has won the 2nd best prize. It was interesting to see his perspective, as a software developer, on what specific processes, enabled by blockchain technology, can be used to do this.

 

 

 

 

George Agathangelou

The third presentation was done by Mr George Agathangelou from Block.co, a company that is a spin-off from the University of Nicosia, a leader in blockchain education in Europe. With the motto “Don’t Trust, Verify!”, George explained that through the services offered by the company, it is possible today to certify copyright ownership and other legal documents through blockchain, namely Bitcoin and other blockchain environments since their operations make their products interoperable and blockchain-agnostic. He explained that they mainly use the Bitcoin blockchain, since it has been the more established blockchain in terms of trust.

 

 

 

 

Copyright protection using Blockchain

Christiana Aristidou

The fourth presentation was from Ms. Christiana Aristidou from Aristidou LLC,  who developed a business plan about a new start-up that would utilize blockchain technology to manage and protect copyrights, as well as oversee conflict resolution procedures. Again, it was interesting to have the input of an experienced lawyer, who is also representing Cyprus in the ISO TC/307 Blockchain Committee.

 

 

 

 

 

Compelling new concepts 

George Lambrianides

The fifth and final pitch was done by Mr. George Lambrianides, Lead Blockchain from Antikythera Capital, who presented some advanced technical opportunities for addressing the problem of who owns the private keys of digital currency wallets. This issue was also discussed extensively through the Bloomen project plenaries, whereby partners argued between having the user keeping ahold of the private keys of the Bloomen wallet, hence having the risk of losing and not recovering the Bloomen tokens, and the instance of Bloomen also having access to the private keys, so as to help inexperienced users recover the keys. 

George presented a solution that combined the ideas of Shamir’s Secret Sharing, together with Zero-Knowledge Proofs, to achieve a perfectly secure solution of a user having ahold of his private keys but with a certain help from Bloomen, they would be able to recover the funds in case they lost it. The novel feature of this solution is that Bloomen, on its own, would not be able to recover the funds because this would require a multi-signature process. This was perhaps the most entertaining presentation, as all this technical complexity was presented through a very interactive session.

Winners of the Ideathon
Based on jury ratings, there were two winners for the IDEAthon, Ms. Evdokia Markou and George Lambrianides. Each one received the prize of €500. Congratulations from everyone in the Bloomen consortium.

On behalf of the Bloomen consortium we want to sincerely thank everyone taking the time to take part, prepare, present and discuss new ideas. A big shoutout goes to Michalis Odysseos of Antenna, who organised the entire event, from early preparation to hosting to media reporting on television in Cyprus. 

Links to media reports about the Bloomen Ideathon:

Day One – Antenna News (Greek)

Antenna Video report (Greek) 

Day 2 – Antenna article (Greek)

Antenna Video Report (Greek)