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IDEO’s Blockchain Accelerator Startup Studio Onboards Over 50 Mentors

IDEO CoLab’s Blockchain Accelerator Startup Studio Has Reportedly Onboarded Over 50 Mentors.

Over 50 members, including officers from companies such as Ethereum Foundation, Blockchain Capital, and Messari, have joined blockchain accelerator Startup Studio backed by Fidelity.

In a blog post published today, July 18, IDEO CoLab Ventures — which stands behind the blockchain accelerator program — revealed that over 20 leading organizations joined Startup Studio, bringing more than 50 mentors to the project for 2019.

Announcing the new program members, IDEO wrote: 

“last week you met our blockchain Startup Studio’s 20+ partner organizations […], today we’re excited to share the humans behind them — and many more — who deeply care about the blockchain community and helping entrepreneurs and developers in it succeed.”

Startup Studio has onboarded industry players such as Denelle Dixon, CEO of Stellar Development Foundation, Joey Krug, co-chief investment officer at Pantera Capital, Robbie Bent from ecosystem support at  Ethereum Foundation, and Ryan Selkis, co-founder and CEO of Messari, among others.

As Cointelegraph reported, major global firms Fidelity, Deloitte and Amazon began supporting a new blockchain accelerator program Startup Studio on July 11. Startup Studio’s objective is to provide workshops to blockchain startups to help them enhance a variety of skills, including product design, law and engineering, smart contract development, finance and hiring, and other fields.

Blockchain accelerators have been gaining traction internationally in recent months. In March, Singapore government-backed blockchain accelerator Tribe got BMW and Intel as two major strategic partners. Both BMW and Intel will provide expertise to the startups selected for support.

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Fidelity, Deloitte, and Amazon Now Support Workshops for DLT Startups

Fidelity, Deloitte and Amazon have joined 20 other firms to support blockchain accelerator program Startup Studio.

Major global firms Fidelity, Deloitte and Amazon, have begun supporting a new blockchain accelerator program called Startup Studio, according to a press release on July 11.

The companies are backing the program along with 20 other firms, including Ethereum Foundation and ETH Global, Stellar Foundation, crypto analytics firm Messari, and Coinbase-backed NEAR Protocol, among the others.

The new blockchain accelerator is an initiative of IDEO CoLab Ventures, the venture capital division of United States-based design consultancy firm IDEO.

Supported by Fidelity, Deloitte and Amazon, as well as major crypto industry players, Startup Studio is set up to provide workshops to blockchain startups to help them enhance a variety of skills, including product design, law and engineering, smart contract development, finance and hiring, among others.

Starting today, blockchain entrepreneurs and startups can apply to participate in specific acceleration programs through Startup Studio’s website, as managing director of IDEO CoLab Ventures Ian Lee wrote in the blog post.

He added that some companies such as crypto lender Dharma, decentralized protocol 0x and crypto derivatives exchange dYdX, have already attended Startup Studio workshops.

In February 2019, IDEO CoLab introduced its “Distributed Web Investing Program,” announcing six investments in blockchain startups, including Messari.

Recently, a diplomatic academy in Brazil announced that it will require new candidates to have knowledge of crypto and blockchain.

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Arizona State University to Use SalesForce Blockchain for Academic Records

Arizona State University is working with local community colleges to use blockchain for sharing academic record data.

Arizona State University is working with local community colleges on using blockchain to innovate data sharing for academic records. The development was reported by university news site Inside Higher Ed on July 9.

Arizona State aims to use blockchain to establish whether students who transfer from community colleges have already earned enough credits to be awarded an associate’s degree — an intermediary qualification between a high school diploma and a full-fledged bachelor’s.

Tracking credits during this process — known as a reverse transfer — becomes complex and time-consuming to navigate: in addition to mere data exchange, colleges are required to interpret academic records that are not homogenous and establish whether the credentials are equivalent to their own.

In partnership with cloud software firm Salesforce and its central enterprise unit EdPlus, Arizona State is thus developing a blockchain-based student data network that would allow participating institutions to securely exchange and verify academic credentials.

A key focus is reportedly to make the process of data exchange bi-directional — so that community colleges can continue to be updated on their former students’ progress at Arizona State. EdPlus CTO Donna Kidwell told reporters:

“We want to optimize those pathways back and forth between us […] so that we can support students who are creating their own path towards a degree.” 

Kidwell reportedly added that such individualized — “DIY” — student choices may also feed back into universities’ understanding of how to develop and tailor their program opportunities. 

Kidwell said that the system aims to better evaluate and share data so as to avoid students missing out on full accreditation for their learning: “saying you have 86 credit hours towards a degree isn’t very meaningful on a résumé.” 

Many of those involved believe that students awarded an associate’s degree are more likely to proceed to complete their bachelor’s after transfer, and that blockchain can provide a robust mechanism to manage complex individual routes through higher education. As one community college coordinator remarked:

“Blockchain is going to be the future of academic records.The technology would certainly provide for greater fluidity. It will also allow students to own their own academic records.”

Nonetheless, another consultant emphasized that interoperability across institutions remains a significant hurdle for optimal blockchain adoption, noting that Arizona State would:

“… have to do the very difficult political work to get others to buy into a shared chain. They’ll face questions about sustainability, management and ownership of the information and technology, as well as the challenge of mapping knowledge from different courses at different institutions.”

Meanwhile, many top-ranked universities globally are offering a host of blockchain and crypto-related courses and accelerators: a group of Oxford professors have even been seeking full-degree granting powers in the EU for what they dub the world’s first “blockchain university.”

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Brazil Requires New Diplomats to Know About Blockchain and Crypto

Brazil’s diplomatic academy, the Rio Branco Institute, will now require that candidates have knowledge of cryptocurrencies and blockchain.

The Brazilian diplomatic academy, the Rio Branco Institute, will now require that candidates have knowledge of cryptocurrencies and blockchain, Cointelegraph Brazil reported on July 8.

The Rio Branco Institute — established in 1945 and offering two advancement courses for diplomats — has published the 2019 edict for the selection of new diplomats in Brazil where it included the requirement that candidates know about blockchain and digital currencies.

As the publication highlights, the subject is mandatory for the test that is initially delivered in two phases, wherein knowledge about blockchain and cryptocurrencies is mandatory in both phases. The notice states that the educational establishment will offer 20 new places and that the starting salary will be 19,199.06 reals ($5,045).

In June, major government and financial authorities in Brazil teamed up to develop a regulatory sandbox model targeting new technologies such as blockchain in order to adapt to the digital transformation affecting the financial, capital and insurance sectors in Brazil.

That same month, Cointelegraph reported that the Brazilian government will consider a draft bill that requires all units of local public administrations to promote new technologies, including blockchain.

If approved, the draft bill will ostensibly require both federal and state government divisions to apply emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and blockchain in order to improve public services.

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Charles Hoskinson Thinks Cardano Will Prevail Over Libra in Emerging Markets

Cardano founder Charles Hoskinson sees emerging markets as huge reservoirs of future customers, but succeeding in them depends on relationships.

Cardano founder Charles Hoskinson claimed that emerging markets are where cryptocurrencies matter, and that Facebook’s announced virtual currency Libra is not going to find success in this area, according to a report by Finance Magnates on June 26.

According to Hoskinson, emerging markets are the future. He says:

“Emerging markets are where cryptocurrencies matter […] When I look at the developed world, I don’t care. It’s highly regulated and, in many cases, a rigged system. If I decide to compete with a tech company they can just push me out via regulation. […] Then I sit down with the prime minister of Georgia and he says, ‘we’re open for business.’ We can rebuild parts of their education infrastructure, create a new payments system or do a medical records system. The keys to the kingdom are right there. That’s 4 million people who in ten or twenty years will be very high-value users.”

In contrast, Hoskinson predicted a struggle for Facebook in promoting Libra due to its lack of relationships, which he said need to be built over time, based on tangible benefits specific to the emerging markets in question. In his words:

“Facebook has to come into countries it doesn’t know a lot about and convince them to enslave themselves to an economic monopoly and give nothing in return. And their only pitch is that you’ll pay less on fees. […] I’m going there and saying, ‘we’re going to rebuild all your systems so you have fraud-free land registration, better voting systems and improved supply chains.’ We’re already doing this stuff but it took years. These are relationship-based markets – and Facebook doesn’t have those relationships.”

Nonetheless, as previously reported by Cointelegraph, Facebook’s stated aim with Libra is:

“Our ultimate goal is to help billions of people with access to things they don’t have now — that could be things like healthcare, equitable financial services, or new ways to save or share information.”

Other major industry players like Coinbase have made promoted crypto’s potential benefits to citizens in developing countries. When the crypto exchange added support for 50 new jurisdictions in May, Coinbase made the following remark in its official announcement:

“For new customers in countries like Argentina and Uzbekistan, where consumer prices are expected to inflate by 10–20% in 2020, stablecoins like USDC could provide an opportunity to protect against inflation.”

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Phillipine Government Tech Department Signs Deal With Blockchain Firm

The government of the Philippines is partnering with a blockchain firm to improve the country’s business and cybersecurity sectors.

The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) of the Philippine government has signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) with U.S.-based blockchain firm Monsoon Blockchain Storage, according to a report by GMA News Online on June 19.

The MoA reportedly stipulates that Monsoon is to act as a blockchain consultant and advisor to DICT, offering services such as cost-benefit and socio-economic analyses regarding blockchain solutions in the Philippines.

DICT Acting Secretary Eliseo Rio Jr. commented on how the MoA will benefit the Philippines, saying it will “directly benefit our continuous effort to address the country’s issues on ease of doing business and cybersecurity.”

The MoA also purports to benefit Monsoon, by the DICT releasing education and awareness materials on blockchain tech and contributing to the firm’s “capacity-building activities.”

According to its website, Monsoon Blockchain Storage is a data storage company that has developed a blockchain solution for analyzing, storing, and optimizing cloud-based data sets. The firm is reportedly also developing an Ethereum-based blockchain with purported ideological similarities to Ripple.

As recently reported by Cointelegraph, the charity foundation associated with major cryptocurrency exchange Binance recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Safe Future, a Uganda-based non-governmental organization focused on improving infrastructure for the country’s schools.

The MoU aims to provide Ugandan students with a variety of useful materials, such as solar panels, sanitary pads, school supplies, LED screens, as well as breakfast and lunch for students.

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Canadian University to Issue Blockchain-Based Diplomas to Class of 2019

The Southern Alberta Institute of Technology has partnered with blockchain marketplace ODEM to issue blockchain copies of diplomas for 4,800 students.

A Canadian tech institute will issue blockchain-based diplomas to its next graduating class, according to an official press release on June 13.

The Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) has partnered with blockchain marketplace ODEM (On-Demand Education Marketplace) to provide blockchain-based copies of student diplomas for SAIT’s graduating class of 2019.
SAIT’s class of 2019, which is made up of over 4,800 students, will reportedly be able to use blockchain technology to share their official diplomas as needed, circumventing the need for alumni to request official documents from SAIT to send to recruiters and employers.

The students will receive the digital version of their certifications in tandem with a traditional paper copy.

ODEM CEO Richard Maaghul commented on how this gives students ownership of their diplomas, saying:

“We believe that students should have control over their own records, and blockchain technology makes that possible.”

The blockchain records will purportedly make the hiring process easier for employers, too, since they can easily verify the credentials of SAIT alumni as genuine.

ODEM and SAIT’s reportedly ran a pilot project in December, in which they used the Ethereum blockchain to test the process of issuing blockchain-based diplomas. 25 participants were drawn from the Pre-Employment Automotive Service Technician program.

Universities in other countries, such as Bahrain and Malta, have also begun to issue and store diplomas on blockchains. The University of Bahrain in particular announced that it was partnering with the startup Learning Machine to provide its blockchain diplomas.

Meanwhile in Malta, the entire country is set to store all educational certificates on a blockchain. The Maltese government partnered with Learning Machine as well, running a two year pilot program to keep certification records from all Maltese schools on a blockchain; this included certificates issued by churches, independent schools, and secondary schools in the country.

As recently reported by Cointelegraph, another university in Canada, the University of British Columbia, has begun a blockchain training program for its graduate- and PhD-level students. The program aims to train 139 students, over a six year period, to understand blockchain solutions for the following areas: health and wellness, clean energy, regulatory technology and Indigenous issues.

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Coinbase Earn Now Supports Ethereum-Based Dai Stablecoin

Coinbase has added a new unit for Ethereum-based stablecoin dai on Coinbase Earn, the first stablecoin to be included in its educational program.

Major crypto platform Coinbase has added a course on MakerDao’s stablecoin dai in its educational portal Coinbase Earn, according to an official blog post by Coinbase on June 10.

According to the post, dai is the first stablecoin covered by Coinbase Earn, which will offer videos and quizzes to help users learn about the token, and receive some Dai for their efforts.

As summarized in the announcement, the Ethereum-based stablecoin Dai is backed by its sister token maker (MKR) and is balanced around retaining a stable value of $1 over time.

Coinbase first announced that they were adding dai to their exchange on May 23. At the time, Coinbase commented that it would be available in most jurisdictions with the exception of New York.

As previously reported by Cointelegraph, dai has been worth less than a dollar — lower than its stated goal — for much of 2019, which has sparked at least five voting sessions centered on rebalancing the coin’s value via increasing its stability fee.

Coinbase also comments that it anticipates earning in general to grow into a relevant crypto-based activity, ranking alongside the known areas of buying, staking, voting, and mining.

Coinbase Earn launched on May 18, following its announcement near the end of 2018. It purports to be a solution for potential investors who are interested in crypto, particularly ones less prominent than bitcoin (BTC), but are reluctant to invest without more information:

“…one of the biggest barriers preventing people from exploring a new digital asset was a lack of knowledge about that asset. Many of the people we surveyed expressed a strong desire to begin learning about new and different crypto assets beyond Bitcoin, but didn’t know where to begin.”