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IBM and Comcast back a blockchain accelerator

Wednesday 10 January 2018 | 12:01 PM CET

IBM and Comcast Venture have announced that they will provide support services and funding for MState, a new accelerator and investment fund for startups developing blockchain solutions for large enterprises.

MState will invest between USD25,000 and USD50,000 in up to six early-stage startups over the next half-year.
Galvanize, a US-based coding school and venture fund, and Boldstart Ventures, a VC company, will also provide technical and financial support. The accelerator will look for startups that aim to solve problems for enterprises across multiple industries, including financial services.

MState aims to help blockchain technology startups achieve a network effect for their solutions. MState's backers point out that blockchain technology solutions targeted at enterprises — for example, to streamline supply chain finance — need to build up global client bases and achieve scale to succeed. The accelerator will help them with this by introducing successful applicants to Fortune 500 enterprises and providing access to a network of 30 advisors to aid with marketing strategy, product development, and finances. Applications will be reviewed by a panel of VCs and blockchain experts, and winners will be revealed in February.

MState also wants to help large incumbents get off the blockchain starting blocks. Despite research showing that circa 60% of large enterprises, including financial institutions (FIs), express interest in leveraging blockchain technology, many feel there is too much choice and don't know which solutions to look at, say MState's backers. By selecting only the most promising blockchain solutions, it will narrow down the possibilities for such companies. Given how long it has so far taken FIs to even build blockchain technology prototypes, never mind bring such prototypes into production, it seems undoubted that incumbents need help to make any breakthroughs on this front.

However, it's not clear whether MState's model will be a right fit for FIs. The first factor to consider is that the accelerator may struggle to find metrics by which to gauge blockchain technology solutions’ value and viability, given the lack of such products in a live environment, and hence anything concrete to measure their performance against.
Second, that Comcast is supplying funding for the program strongly suggests it would have at last partial ownership of any solutions developed by accelerator participants, which could make FIs — which typically like to be in control of the solutions they implement — reluctant to adopt them. As such, FIs considering tapping into any products emerging from accelerators, may want to consider looking instead to programs that are specific to the financial services industry.

More: Link
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