(Uni)bright Universities — our contribution to research and development
After the first unibright.solutions workshops we did with potential future clients in the beginning of 2019, we decided to additionally put some effort into education. We do so for laying the groundwork for an ecosystem of future engineers, developers and architects in a decentralized IT world. We want to make it possible for every enterprise to have dedicated blockchain specialists in some years, just as they have specialists for databases, programming languages or software architecture. This blog post gives you some details on what we have done so far, and what is to come.
In the last 9 months, we established great contacts to universities, research facilities, and enterprise innovation departments. We gave lectures, audited master’s and PhD theses and prepared our participation in research support programs to be launched in 2020. Let’s take a closer look at these different achievements:
Technical University Bingen / University of Mainz
As the technical University of Bingen does not yet offer any blockchain specific courses, we decided to change that. A first introduction to software engineering master students was given by our CTO Stefan in a project management masterclass. The idea of this masterclass is to have master students working together on a “real world project” to strengthen their knowledge of working in “scrum”. Scrum is an agile process framework, often used in software development teams. Unibright also uses Scrum in a scaled mode — we already published a blog post about that last year.
Stefan played the role of the “product owner” in that project, representing a client asking for a software team to deliver a desired product. In this case, the students were to create solidity smart contracts representing a voting process. The single user stories to work on included setting up a development environment, working on concepts to offer different voting types (simple majority, n out of m, ..) and of course writing and testing solidity code. As the students performed very well, the last sprint was extended to writing a compiler that automatically creates the desired voting smart contract.
These results can now also be brought in the Unibright development team and after auditing the code we could think of offering a voting template which can be included in the Unibright framework. This template could also be connected to other templates; for example we could take a specific outcome of a vote to become an approval of a step in a multi party approval process.
Future work with TH Bingen will include more masterclasses and perhaps a dedicated bachelor blockchain unit, which we are working on setting up, together with TH Bingen.
The Hague University of Applied Sciences
For the second year in a row Unibright has been working together with The Hague University of Applied Sciences. Jordi Jansen, the main driving force behind the blockchain minor, has worked with students on blockchain now for three years, and participants in that minor have increased dramatically. Last year 50 students joined the blockchain minor, and this year there are 120.
This year, our ambassador manager Ruud is guiding another group of motivated students from different backgrounds. Most are Business & ICT students (so quite familiar on business process management), but there are also Maritime Management and Sports Management students. Currently, their assignment is to visit companies not yet familiar with blockchain technology and tell them about the benefits and what it could mean for the future of their company.
The students were asked to shoot a nice video:
Last week, on Thursday September 26th, Ruud gave a one hour talk about Unibright, and closed it with a workshop where students from the minor were able to make their first smart contract, without having to write a single line of code, using the Unibright demo.
Master and PhD Audits and Contribution
Being one of the blockchain startups with an educational background of university level, we have been auditing and contributing to seven master’s and PhD theses from different universities. Most of the universities were based in Germany (Munich, Berlin, Hamburg, Frankfurt, Darmstadt), but two of them were in other European cities (Prague, Milano). Six of the theses were about economic subjects, while there was one technical thesis related to automated testing of smart contracts. We still see a lot of work to do here, we need more developers touching the basics of blockchain — we are happy to help!
Research Support Programs
The German government released their “blockchain strategy paper” just some days ago. A major part of the future strategy is to invest in research programs issued on European level, on German level or (smaller ones) on the level of the German federal states.
Many of these programs apply to “SME” (small and mid-sized enterprises) taking high risks of putting resources into future topics, impacting both technology and society. Blockchain surely is one of these topics, and Unibright is perfectly set up to contribute to these programs. We are working on applications and contributions to several of these programs, some of them are about building standards (like we do with our tracing cases), some of them are about building applications to be used by enterprises and authorities (e.g. tokeniziation, or extending business process standards) and others are about building an ecosystem (like regulatory approved integration of security tokens).
All the programs target 2020–2025 to produce productive output, so we are at a very early stage here. As soon as one of these programs materialize for Unibright, we will provide detailed updates on the topics of research and development.
Unibright offers a unified framework, bringing blockchain technology and smart contracts to mainstream usage. With its “no-coding-needed” approach, smart contracts get generated, deployed and updated automatically into different blockchains. Unibright works with visual, usecase-related templates and also automatically integrates existing IT systems into the blockchain.
Unibright Solutions, a dedicated consulting branch to support blockchain use in business processes, was additionally launched in December 2018.