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Buffalo readies for first-ever blockchain 'buildathon'


Mon, Mar 26th 2018 04:35 pm
More than 200 students and tech enthusiasts from Western New York are expected to participate
Chances are you're familiar with Bitcoin. But how much do you know about blockchain, the technology behind the headline-grabbing cryptocurrency?
If the answer is "not much," that's OK, because the City of Good Neighbors has plenty of blockchain devotees - and they'll be demonstrating their knowledge next month at Western New York's first-ever "buildathon" focusing on the technology.
The UB Blockchain Buildathon - organized by UB, the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus and software development company ConsenSys - will take place over a frenzied weekend, April 13-15. Dozens of teams comprised of more than 200 area college students, tech enthusiasts and others will compete to see who can create the best use of blockchain technology.
For more information on the buildathon, which will be held at the new downtown home of the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at UB, visit: www.ethBuffalo.org.
A primer on blockchain: Blockchain is a new type of computer coding - a permanent record of sorts - that keeps track of digital transactions via a decentralized public ledger. While best known for Bitcoin, fans say blockchain could form the backbone of a new type of internet - one that could affect banking, digital rights management, the insurance industry and many other markets.
The goal of the buildathon is to bring together blockchain-savvy individuals with some of the region's most technologically forward-leaning businesses, and brainstorm ideas on how the technology could help solve local and global challenges.
"This is a watershed moment in the evolution of the internet. With blockchain and cryptocurrency technologies, we are transforming from centralized to decentralized applications. This is expected to usher in new applications that transcend demographics and national barriers, and disrupt traditional industries. Simply put, blockchain technology has the potential to transform every industry that we interact with," said conference organizers Sam Marrazzo and Bina Ramamurthy in a joint statement.
Marrazo, chief innovation officer at the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, and Ramamurthy, research associate professor of computer science and engineering, added: "It is imperative that we educate and enable the creation of an inclusive society where everyone benefits. Initiatives at UB, such as the Blockchain Thinklab and the UB Blockchain Buildathon, which are supported by the local community and businesses, will establish Buffalo as a premier center for blockchain education and research.​"
One of buildathon's sponsors, ValueCentric, a provider of cloud-based data aggregation and analytics for manufacturers in the life sciences industry, sees blockchain's potential in the pharmaceutical industry.
"Blockchain is clearly a disruptive technology with significant business and social impact. ValueCentric envisions blockchain as potentially solving pharmaceutical industry needs, including the ability to trace movements of a pharmaceutical package immutably back to the source. We are proud to support collaboration between the university and industry to engage some of our brightest and most creative students to attack these real world issues. As a technology company, we are thrilled to see this level of talent continue to develop locally," said Judy Feldman, ValueCentric's chief information officer.
Companies sponsoring the UB Blockchain Buildathon are:
  • Premiere level — Moog Inc., M&T Bank.
  • Gold level — Computer Task Group, Praxair, ValueCentric, Rich Products Corp.
  • Silver level — Topcoder, Helm Experience & Design, UB Blockchain Thinklab.

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