Tech Wednesday: The future is blockchain

October 19, 2017


Each month the Innovation Birmingham Campus provides the perfect opportunity for Birmingham’s techies and entrepreneurs to gather, network and strengthen the community’s knowledge across a range of subject areas.


Our modern Universities Centre, unveiled in October of last year, welcomed over 60 techies from around the city for a blockchain bonanza last night, stimulating discussion, debate and learning around the ever-prescient topic.


In preparation for the meet-up, we thought ‘what better way for people of all abilities and experiences to learn about the significance of new technologies than to hear from experts in the field?’, so that’s what we did.


Blockchain 101


After a relaxed mini session of networking and greetings on behalf of the Campus, our first expert Neil Pennington, Head of Business Development at DISC Holdings, provided a fascinating overview of how connections between people, organisations and devices can be completely transformed through business model innovation, decentralisation, technology, digital identity and blockchain. Neil said:


“It’s all about making a positive and lasting impact. As an innovator, communicator and implementer, I’m passionate about getting things done and excited by change.”

Neil is currently working in early stage businesses focused on several applications, including micro-payments, messaging and decentralised energy; enabled by secure digital identity and blockchain technology.




Following this, Salena Worral, Co-Founder at Zonafide highlighted how central the Ethereum blockchain technology is for the start-up’s central product; a digital wallet aiming to secure legitimate activities using smart contracts with a view to enhance the safety of people’s data and transactions. The organisation imparted expertise, successes and difficulties from being hands-on with the technology for around 18 months.


Being “well ahead of others in the space” means that Zonafide is now focused on engaging, training and onboarding Service Providers in financial services, utilities, retail and telco's at CxO level to process the Zonafide life event activities. Just like you send messages and pictures, Zonafide enables people to send someone an assurance that an activity is genuinely being carried out by them. Salena said:

“This is a way to ensure that something important that you are doing is professional. We are reducing the risk of fraudulent activity by integrating this verification process. People get calls from call centres, texts from their bank, are these legitimate or fake?"




Question time


Each of the two experts’ gripping talks prompted a series of probing questions where techies and entrepreneurs of all abilities had the chance to challenge, understand or clarify discussions and developments surrounding blockchain technology. Michael-Don Smith, Business Development Strategist at Diversiton said:


"Due to the novel nature of what we're doing, there was a variety of levels of expertise in the room. It’s good to have these meet-ups because there is so little known about the blockchain.”


Electrician and small venture investor Adam Cheshire added:


“The session was informative in every way. It clarified what industries can use blockchain and how important it's going to become for a variety of industries. Before I came tonight I had very limited knowledge, but I now understand the basics.”


Look out for announcements of next month’s Tech Wednesday meet-up scheduled to take place on November 15th at Innovation Birmingham’s multi-million-pound iCentrum building.


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