What types of distributed ledger technologies and crypto ventures are attracting funding from investors? We review some of the latest developments:
UNICEF directs innovation funds to six blockchain companies
The child-focussed aid organisation UNICEF plans to invest up to $100,000 in six blockchain companies based in developing or emerging economies. UNICEF’s Innovation Fund aims to help those companies – Atix Labs, Onesmart, Prescrypto, Statwig, Utopixar and W3 Engineers – launch open-source prototypes of blockchain applications over the coming year. The applications in development include solutions for affordable access to mobile phone services, healthcare service transparency and financing and support for social-impact projects. “Blockchain technology is still at an early stage – and there is a great deal of experimentation, failure and learning ahead of us as we see how, and where, we can use this technology to create a better world,” UNICEF Innovation principal adviser Chris Fabian said in a press announcement. “That’s exactly the stage when UNICEF Innovation Fund invests: when our financing, technical support and focus on vulnerable populations can help a technology grow and mature in the most fair and equitable way possible.”
Crypto fund places bet on blockchain-based word-of-mouth marketing
Olymp Capital, a crypto-focussed European investment fund, has invested an undisclosed amount in Yeay GmbH, a Berlin-based startup that plans to use blockchain for ad-free word-of-mouth marketing. Yeay, a video-based recommendation engine, is developing the word-of-mouth (WOM) token-supported protocol as a “simple and transparent means for rewarding peer-to-peer recommendations in a scalable and robust economy leveraging the power of the blockchain”. Olymp Capital co-founder and CEO Christophe de Courson said in a news release: “Our vision for Olymp Capital is to invest in the most innovative blockchain and crypto projects globally and, as with our initial investment in Nodle.io, we see WOM as another sign that blockchain can disrupt emerging, and developed, market segments.” WOM tokens are currently available for private sale, and 350 million are set to be offered during a Dutch auction token generation event in the first quarter of 2019.
China Mobile subsidiary and Xunlei partner for DLT-based IoT applications
China Mobile’s internet-of-things (IoT) subsidiary is partnering with the shared computing/blockchain company Xunlei to jointly develop IoT applications using blockchain technology. Working together, the two companies plan to invest in research and development and share market intelligence for the IoT industry. “China Mobile is a world-leading telecommunications service provider and leads the way in IoT adoption in China,” Xunlei CEO Lei Chen said in a news announcement. “Xunlei has unique strengths and experience in blockchain technology, including high performance products like ThunderChain and TCFS. I believe this partnership with CMIoT will facilitate our efforts to integrate these products into the emerging IoT technologies to enhance their efficiency and security.”
Ohio eyes over $300 million for blockchain startups over next three years
Several funds across the state of Ohio plan to invest more than $300 million in blockchain startups over the next three years, according to a report by cleveland.com. Speaking at the Blockland Solutions Conference held on 1 - 4 December in Cleveland, Ray Leach – CEO of the business development non-profit JumpStart – said his organisation and six others across Ohio expect to invest $100 million in tech startups, including those working on blockchain applications for business or government. He added that, over the next three years, other investors aim to direct $200 million toward blockchain companies that use Ohio’s “Opportunity Zones” for economic development in disadvantaged regions.
Fantom launches university partnerships to promote blockchain education
Fantom Foundation, a South Korea-based smart contract platform, recently partnered with the University of Sydney to create new opportunities for blockchain education. The December announcement follows a similar collaborative effort that Fantom launched in November with the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa. “As we look to accelerate the mainstream adoption of blockchain technology, several key technical challenges need to be addressed, including issues with security, scalability and high-energy consumption,” Fantom CEO Byung Ik Ahn said in a news release. “To kickstart this process, the industry needs to start placing a heavier emphasis on blockchain-focussed research and academia, which it desperately lacks.”
Startup investor says crypto needs time to attract traditional capital
A Swiss startup investor whose early picks included Facebook, Mobileye and Netscape says blockchain technology is “definitely here to stay” but is not yet poised to attract capital from traditional sources. In a November interview with swissinfo.ch, Daniel Gutenberg said: “In 2013 I started investing in bitcoin and got interested in the space. I am now a little bit deeper in the space, but I haven’t made many investments because I don’t think it is yet ready for traditional investors like myself.” He added: “There is no doubt that the whole idea of cryptocurrencies, of securities traders on the blockchain, will be a success. It’s just very difficult to evaluate which companies are going to reap success. I am getting interested and am working my way into it because I see a promising future.”