After weeks of preparation, we were excited to hold in July 2018 our first edition of the Blockchain Summer School (BSS18). Our collaboration with the “Akademie Deutscher Genossenschaften” (ADG) made it possible to deliver blockchain know-how to non-technical decision makers and entrepreneurs.
The Academy of German Cooperatives ADG is part of the Cooperative Association.
For many years, ADG has been a point of contact for the 972 German Cooperative Banks, with around 155,000 employees, and over 3,300 product, energy, consumption and service cooperatives, as well as more than 1,300 industrial cooperatives, with a total of around 700,000 employees.
As one of the leading management academies in Germany, ADG offers cooperative banks and cooperative enterprises a wide range of high-quality management and qualification programs, higher education study programs (Bachelor’s, Master’s, PhD), seminars, workshops, forums and Tailor-made in-house solutions for all current issues.
ASTRATUM is a blockchain venture studio, developing since 2015 value in the Distributed Economy and proud to be founding member of the Blockchain Association Germany (Bundesverband Blockchain).
We have been working with ADG for the past three years, regularly organizing executive events like “Finance & Innovation Days” or the “Blockchain Dine & Talks” in Berlin. There, we invite blockchain pioneers to discuss all things blockchain with us and executives from retail banking, investment banking, insurance, asset management and real estate.
This time, however, we wanted to do with our partner ADG something on a larger scale. That’s how we came up with the idea for organizing a Blockchain Summer School in Montabaur, at the ADG headquarters.
The initial concept we had for the Blockchain Summer School was to provide knowledge about blockchain for non-technical executives and entrepreneurs, such as the concept of smart contracts and tokenization of real world assets, but also provide practical hands-on experience about it, like using cryptowallets, creating and transfering tokens or interacting with smart contracts.
But this BSS18 turned out to be so much more than that.
The Course and Participants
After the theoretical and the hands-on components, the participants worked in several group workshops throughout the 3-day course. This gave them the opportunity to flesh out some ideas that were already swirling around in their heads, as well as a convenient way to receive constructive feedback on those ideas from outspoken experts within the fields of technology and software development, taxation, law, investment, token design, ICO’s.
Using the group workshop as a platform to exchange thoughts and to share experiences proved to be a great way for the participants to come out of the BSS18 with some peer-to-peer and expert reviewed concepts.
The profiles of the 40 participants were quite diverse. Some of the Blockchain Summer School audience were various executives from Volksbank and other banks or financial services, looking to understand the potential of blockchain and smart contracts in sales, IT, operations and governance. Other BSS18 participants, just to name few, were for example
- Professor Anne Heinrichs from the Columbia University in New York, expert in corporate transactions and financial modeling,
- Elisaveta Kostova from GIZ, the governmental organisation “Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit”, looking to apply blockchain to improve working and living conditions for textile factory workers in Ethiopia.
- a team of MPC Capital (Interviews here and here), interested to learn more about asset tokenization.
- Klaus Preschle, working with a team on a biofuel project in South-East Asia, which has a lower carbon footprint as fossil-based oil.
- Needless to say, it was an interesting mixed group of students: some were already somewhat experienced with blockchain and tokens, some were close to being absolute beginners. Both groups benefited from each other.
Our experts and working group coaches at the BSS18 were well-known blockchain experts all with industry and entrepreneurial background, from Austria, Germany and Switzerland, including:
Sven Laepple, Gleb Dudka, Manuela Godeck and Alice Kohn from ASTRATUM.
Sven Laepple, CEO and founder of ASTRATUM. With a rich experience at large enterprises and banks, but also as founder (IPO in 2000) and business angel in the digital space. Studied digital currencies, blockchain and fintech at University of Nicosia and Massachussetts Institute of Technology (MIT), International keynote speaker and pioneer in the space, having implemented a new mobility solution with smart contracts already in 2016.
Gleb Dudka, blockchain strategist, researcher and analyst at ASTRATUM. studied digital currencies at University of Nicosia and covering cryptomarkets and evaluating new business models, experienced in token design and with international background and an interest in south-east asia and russia.
Manuela Godeck, blockchain project lead advisor at ASTRATUM with a rich background in consulting, devOps and IT system development at large enterprises. Studied digital currencies and blockchain at University of Nicosia, financial systems at Columbia University. Focus on financial innovation and project development, agile system development, design thinking.
Alice Kohn, blockchain research and content marketing at ASTRATUM. Independent journalist for international TV programs with international background and long-standing blockchain experience in concept evaluation, development, storytelling, whitepaper, content strategy and development.
Boris Janek from the ADG, fintech expert, digital innovator and one of the leading fintech blogger in Germany. Boris hosted together with Sven the Blockchain Summer School.
Benjamin Kirschbaum from the law office WINHELLER, who spoke about tax implications of ICOs and crypto trading. WINHELLER is a pioneer in Bitcoin and Blockchain Tax and Legal advise. For example, they sat up the foundation for IOTA. Our Interview with Benjamin here.
Susi Förschler from DWF Law, who discussed regulation of crypto assets in Europe and around the globe. The team around Nina-Louise Siedler, Partner at DWF, has been involved in many national and international blockchain projects and ICO’s. Our Interview with Susi here.
Hannes Stiebitzhofer from Eigenheads, who supported us in the hands-on sessions by creating an own “workshop token”. Hannes has also valuable experience as entrepreneur in energy and blockchain. Our Interview with Hannes here.
Jan-Paul Buchwald from 51nodes, who presented some automotive blockchain use-cases as well as provided interesting smart contract insights.
Ela Kagel from Supermarkt, presented us her view on the cooperatives and how the blockchains philosophy fits into them and her experience of setting up a cooperative for Rchain in Germany.
Achim Jedelsky from Daimler Real Estate, who also runs a very successful meetup group for blockchain real estate. Achim introduced several use-cases for blockchain in real estate and the newly founded Blockchain Real Estate foundation FIBREE.
Eric Holst from KI Decentralized and Base58, who supported the working groups with his insights into tokens and token design. Eric is involved int he development of blockchain projects and in the new german-speaking blockchain site Base 58. The Interview with Eric here.
Andrea Redaelli from HUGO BOSS, who works on sustainable supply chains was unfortunately not able to join us. Next time, he will be with us.
Day 1 of the Blockchain Summer School
Day 1 served as the introduction to the basic concepts of blockchain and cryptocurrencies. We introduced various blockchains, which hosts smart contracts and presented their features and limitations.
For demonstration purposes, we used ethereum in our practical session. Participants learned to use basic blockchain applications, such as MetaMask and Cipher Wallets in order to transfer tokens to each other.
Already in the opening presentation by Astratum’s own Sven Laepple, it becomes clear that this crash-course will not look at blockchain just as a technological innovation but as worldwide movement that brings together a wide variety of people, philosophies and ideas.
The financial crisis and the associated loss of confidence in banking institutions were recognized as the initial spark of the blockchain movement. Blockchain was examined as a radical paradigm shift in the socio-economic field.
At the other end, the impact of ICOs was discussed as a viable disruptor of the established venture capital industry.
The afternoon of Day 1 was dedicated to the various blockchain use cases in different industries like supply chain, real estate, insurance and renewable energy. One focus was as result of the interactive format on the ways blockchain will impact the financial and banking industries.
Key takeaways from Day 1
· Blockchain companies are still not recognized as competitors by banks.
· When dealing with corporate clients, blockchain becomes something much more than an IT topic. Much like the Internet itself, blockchain is poised to bring fundamental changes to business as we know it. The changing power is created by the social and economic ideas associated with its full potential.
· According to MIT, blockchain is “ The 5th horizon of networked innovation“, which will determine the future development of the Internet and thus the infrastructure of society and economy. Jeremy Rifkin speaks in this context of an energy, logistics, and communication Internet and sees thereby the fourth industrial revolution in the development.
· Blockchain is possibly the most important innovation since “double-entry bookkeeping”, means since 500 years.
· It’s not blockchain itself that is disruptive, but the models that can be implemented on top of it.
· A popular mantra of the blockchain movement is “Disrupt the Disruptors”
· Blockchain creates business formats that go beyond platform business models — Distributed Business
· China has possibly best realized the potential of blockchain and how to make it work.
Day 2 of the Blockchain Summer School
Day 2 continued in the format of serving more advanced theoretical knowledge by our experts and starting off with the workshops that kept everyone fully engaged with the subject matter.
The themes ran the gamut of token conception, crypto economics and business models, blockchain and AI, 3D printing, IoT, big data, VR/AR. We further presented and discussed in detail the legal frameworks and tax law in Germany, the EU and abroad.
Achim Jedelsky from Daimler Real Estate, who runs as well a successful meet-up group for blockchain real estate. Achim introduced several use-cases for blockchain in real estate and the newly founded Blockchain Real Estate foundation FIBREE.
Key takeaway from Day 2
Blockchain is — as we repeatedly notice — not just a technology, but something more similar to a worldview. It can be used to build solutions and systems that preserve or even stabilize the status quo, but it can also be a tool for disruption and revolutionary change when/where necessary.
Here all the working group ideation and discussion started. In the beginning participants within one working group had different ideas and different concepts in mind and it was after many deep discussions that group could unite around one concept. After that with a structured approach and led by the coaches, the working group could advance forward with developing the concept, getting support from the experts coming up to various groups.
Day 3 of the Blockchain Summer School
Day 3 was dedicated mostly to hands-on collaborations in a workshop format. The workshops were not just educational on a tech level, but covered the full spectrum of technological, economic and social innovation. Discussed were the changes brought about by technology and their fundamental economic, social and above all ethical implications.
All participants of the workgroups are collaborating in an own channel of our ASTRATUM Slack — where they can share and discuss ideas and continue networking
. Some ideas discussed during those workshops and later in Slack:
- The concept of a kind of co-operative DAO that first collects funds through the members of cooperatives, which then — largely automatically or with an extremely simple voting system — are distributed to social and cooperative innovation projects, according to non-changeable regulations or values. The goal would be to achieve an independent, non-hierarchical and non-interest-driven regional renewal.
- Syndicated loans from several small banks via a blockchain solution
- Asset tokenization platform with the development of a utility token to leverage this platform. Financed by an ICO, of course.
- The aim is to improve the working conditions at a plug-and-play industrial park in Ethiopia with 16,000 employees. Two possible use cases: salary and incentivization of the enablement. Advantages of using blockchain would be security and transparency.
- Bank accounts as identity systems. Utility and asset tokens. More efficient internal processes and new services.
With such a dense content covered throughout this intense 3-day crash course, many sub-topics had to be shortened or cut out completely in order for the most essential points to get covered within the timeframe of the Summer School. However, all students received information materials for further study.
The certificates of participation in the BSS18 have been recorded on the Bitcoin blockchain with anyone being able to verify the certificate’s legitimacy after following an easy set of steps described on https://www.astratum.com/bss18.
We conducted a set of interview with some of the BSS18 coaches and participants, which you can watch here:
All in all, the Blockchain Summer School 2018 was a great experience for everyone involved, the participants, ADG and ASTRATUM. This was most certainly not our last event of this kind. We ended Day 3 with lots of useful lessons learned, not just by the students but also by us at ASTRATUM.
We are looking forward to further workshops with ADG. Some intriguing topics for upcoming workshops are for example a dedicated ICO workshop or possibly a crash course in crypto trading and asset management.
We had a truly great time. Thanks to the ADG for the excellent organization, to the experts for their support and engagement and the participants for their collaboration and enthusiasm.
Are you interested in having inhouse workshops about financial innovation or blockchain technology? Contact us to if you want to discuss how best to organise similar or customized formats for your organisation.
See you next time!
ASTRATUM is a blockchain venture studio, developing value in the Distributed Economy.
We develop innovative next generation solutions, blockchain strategies, help investors with investment in crypto assets and educate with “blockchain dine&talks” the world and mechanics of cryptocurrencies and blockchain to executives and managers.
Our team rely on experts with outstanding professional experience and the necessary skillset to address the interdisciplinary challenges, coming with the cryptoeconomy. We believe that decentralized tech like blockchain is a game changer, and that a blue ocean strategy is the best approach to develop meaningful innovation. We also believe that Distributed Business is the future.
Besides corporate innovation in e.g. mobility, fintech 2.0 and real estate, we develop together with partners our own ventures. For our ventures, we are collaborating with investors and team up with exceptional individuals or teams.
We are proud to be founding member of the Blockchain Association Germany (Bundesverband Blockchain) and of the Distributed Sky Alliance. ASTRATUM is also Industry Partner of the Technical University TU Berlin.