Aug 16

What to know about Cleveland’s Blockchain Evolution

Cleveland leaders are organizing around a new initiative to transform and enhance our regional economy through blockchain.  Blockchain technologies work as a linked list of digitized information in blocks, with each block recording transactions and linked in a chronological chain like a 20th century ledger.  The local effort, referred to as BlockLand, is focused on how to reposition Cleveland on the cutting edge of technological advancement and is being led by Bernie Moreno, of the Bernie Moreno Companies. 

Joe Roman (GCP) and Dr. Akram Boutros (MetroHealth System) co-chair BlockLand’s political environment node.  And, an event that was held last Monday at GCP headquarters was used to heighten public sector leaders’ understanding of blockchain and its potential to enhance our economy.  BlockLand’s political environment node is charged with: 
• Advocating for blockchain application adoption with city, county, and state policymakers, with the goal of modernizing government. 
• Educating policy makers on the importance of developing laws and updating current statutes that make Cleveland, and Ohio, the leader in forward thinking blockchain legislation, allowing blockchain to succeed and thrive here. 

Local business leader Bernie Moreno shed more light on the topic this past Thursday during a presentation at GCP’s 3Q Middle Market Forum.  During his standing-room-only presentation at the Huntington Convention Center, Moreno said it is imperative that Cleveland begin laying the groundwork now to be a leader in this burgeoning technology.

“We are three to five years away from mainstream adoption,” Moreno said of Blockchain technologies at GCP’s recent Middle Market Forum.  “Technology today is in every company” and “a city that is not in the tech business is a city that is not going to survive,” he added.

That’s why Cleveland is building a blockchain technology ecosystem today.  In fact, BlockLand also announced last week, a first-of-its-kind partnership between Cleveland-based JumpStart Inc. and the Toronto-based Blockchain Research Institute (BRI).  With significant financial support from GCP and the Unify Project, JumpStart joined BRI on behalf of the entire region.  The membership allows JumpStart to provide Greater Cleveland entrepreneurs and existing businesses valued under $1 billion with access at no charge to BRI’s 80 groundbreaking research projects. These projects examine the strategic implications of blockchain technology in the financial services, manufacturing, retail, energy/resources, technology/media, healthcare and government sectors, as well as how this nascent technology changes the way companies are managed. 

Why Blockchain?

While Blockchain may not be widely known by many today, it’s clear it will soon become a household term.  Blockchain has been identified as a standout opportunity for Northeast Ohio for several reasons:

Cryptocurrency relevant: Blockchain is a data backbone in the emerging field of cryptocurrencies.

Economic disrupter: Blockchain is a key technology disrupter in a wide variety of industries.

Data consistency: There is no data conflict within the database.

Immutable data: The data cannot be edited, copied or deleted.

Decentralized form: No one party owns or governs the data.

Blockchain availability: The data is replicable and available to all.
Blockland exists, in part, to establish Cleveland as a strong technology center by becoming a blockchain solutions leader, with the goal of growing employment to benefit all Cleveland communities.  And, our region has an opportunity to get in on the ground floor.

Blockchain Benefits

The establishment of blockchain technologies in Cleveland will yield several benefits for the city and the local economy, including:
• the establishment of an annual Blockland Solutions Conference which will take place at the Huntington Convention Center in Cleveland from December 1-4, 2018; registration will open on September 6 on the newly launched conference website;

• attracting companies and people to the region (including via, venture, angel and private equity groups), which will make Cleveland a global thought leader;
• bringing together local companies to create a blockchain network;
• the creation of industry applications to develop, pilot and commercialize blockchain;
• engaging institutions of learning in blockchain research, learning and curriculum;
• producing a degreed, accredited, or trained workforce of blockchain coders and nurture “next generation” workforce pathways from within Cleveland’s disadvantaged communities;
• exploring opportunities and partnerships with foreign cities to establish branches;
• convening the legal community to create an incubator that would educate and provide cutting edge blockchain research;
• starting a philanthropic fund to advance blockchain solutions;
• laying the groundwork for an operational think tank, including an industrial advisory board; and
• creating a physical location/tech hub for Blockland.

GCP will continue to provide updates to our members on the Blockland transformation as the process moves forward.  

Want to learn even more?  Click here to watch an interview with Brian Ray, professor of law and director of the Center for Cybersecurity and Privacy Protection at Cleveland-Marshall College of Law.