Smart Dubai Launches 3rd Global Blockchain Challenge

Press release
Published January 6th, 2019 - 10:57 GMT
During the event
During the event

Smart Dubai is gearing up to launch the third round of the Global Blockchain Challenge, organised in partnership with successful local accelerator the Dubai Future Accelerators (DFA), an initiative of the Dubai Future Foundation (DFF).

The Challenge seeks to source innovative Blockchain start-ups from around the world and bring them to Dubai, which, in turn, further establishes the emirate as an international capital for Blockchain technology.

The competition will be held at the Future Blockchain Summit, taking place on April 2-3, 2019, at the Dubai World Trade Centre, where teams shortlisted in the preliminary stages will be invited to come to Dubai and begin training with DFA ahead of the final Blockchain Challenge Presentation and Awarding Ceremony. Earlier in May 2018, the Future Blockchain Summit attracted 8,143 attendees, 140+ speakers, and more than 130 start-ups and entrepreneurs from 130 countries.

The objective of the Challenge to identify innovative projects that can contribute to the implementation of the Dubai Blockchain Strategy 2020, which was announced by Smart Dubai and the Dubai Future Foundation to make Dubai the first Blockchain-powered city by 2020.

Her Excellency Dr Aisha Bint Butti Bin Bishr, Director General of Smart Dubai, said: “Dubai has established itself, and in record time, as a global destination for innovators and entrepreneurs in the Blockchain industry. Guided by the vision of our leadership, the emirate has become synonymous with bravely embracing avant-garde technologies and utilising them to create an advanced, connected and seamless urban experience for its residents and visitors.”

“To build a truly smart city,” H.E. continued, “we must establish and empower a holistic Blockchain ecosystem. This includes building the advanced infrastructure for the technology to thrive, but also, and perhaps more importantly, to attract talented and ambitious individuals and start-ups and empower them to implement their innovations – and that is the essence of the Blockchain Challenge, which now holds its third instalment.”

H.E. Dr Aisha added: “The competition allows us to source highly skilled individuals with innovative and ambitious ideas, and bring them to Dubai where they can pilot their projects to channel Blockchain technology towards addressing people’s needs and improving their lives. Building this ecosystem is a catalyst for the Dubai Paperless Strategy and the transition to a paperless government by the year 2021, as well as a key requirement for successfully implementing the Dubai Blockchain Strategy, launched by His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Dubai Executive Council, in October 2016.”

For his part, H.E. Wesam Lootah, CEO of the Smart Dubai Government Establishment (SDG), noted: “Dubai’s ambitious plans to create a local and thriving industry around Blockchain are progressing rapidly with the Blockchain Strategy well on its way to fully digitising government operations, creating thousands of new tech and business opportunities in the process. This became evident as Dubai continuously ranked high, and on an international scale, in terms of attracting foreign direct investment and other competitiveness criteria.”

“The Global Blockchain Challenge allows us to attract start-ups and companies from around the world to pilot and implement their ideas in Dubai, which, in turn, opens new prospects for Blockchain applications that improve people’s lives,” H.E. Lootah asserted.

H.E. Khalfan Belhoul, CEO Of Dubai Future Foundation, said: “We, at the Dubai Future Accelerators, work on providing an ecosystem to support innovation, encourage entrepreneurs, and incubate start-ups who have a main purpose of using advanced and emerging technologies such as Blockchain to develop and enhance government services. Our efforts also focus on promoting Dubai as a test bed for new innovations and new emerging technologies, whereby products and services that are in the pre-legal and pre-market stage are vetted and tested ahead of entering the commercial production stage.” He added that the Global Blockchain Challenge is a global platform, and a perfect setup for start-ups from across the world to present their ideas and projects and work in collaboration to pilot and test their technologies.

Finalists in the Global Blockchain Challenge will travel to Dubai to participate in a five-day programme, which will include an introduction to the UAE culture and processes of conducting business in the country, pitch presentation training, and finally a pitch competition that will be held as part of the Future Blockchain Summit, to an audience of investors, experts, private and public institutions. Three winners will be chosen among the finalists to receive first, second, and third place prize money of $20,000, $15,000 and $10,000, respectively, and the opportunity to implement their product or service in Dubai.

Last year, a prize pool of $45,000 went to three winners, who were selected from among 17 finalists from 14 countries – in turn shortlisted from 200 applicants. The winning start-ups were Ireland’s AID Tech in first place, with the UAE’s Smart Crowd and the USA’s Codex rounding up the top three.

The Dubai Blockchain Strategy revolves around three main pillars: First, increasing government efficiency by transferring all applicable government transactions to the Blockchain network; second, creating a blockchain industry and ecosystem; and finally, leading the thinking and advancement of Blockchain technology around the world. The Blockchain Challenge will contribute to the Strategy’s industry creation pillar by identifying the most innovative Blockchain ideas from start-ups around the world and bringing them to Dubai.

Background Information

Smart Dubai

"Smart Dubai is anchored in the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President & Prime Minister of the UAE, and Ruler of Dubai, to make Dubai the happiest city on Earth. " 

Collaborating with private sector and government partners, Smart Dubai is the government office charged with facilitating Dubai’s citywide smart transformation, to empower, deliver and promote an efficient, seamless, safe and impactful city experience for residents and visitors. Smart Dubai is committed to a collaborative and agile approach to Dubai’s smart city transformation, empowering strategic partnerships with the public and private sector and academia to design and implement services and elevate citywide thought leadership, in line with its mission to make Dubai the happiest city on earth through technology innovation.

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