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Innovate Canmore flips bit on blockchain

CANMORE – Innovate Canmore is adding blockchain expertise to the tech foundry with a new partnership with Calgary-based YYChain.
Innovate Canmore
Innovate Canmore CEO Brian McClure at the Civic Centre in Canmore in April.

CANMORE – Innovate Canmore is adding blockchain expertise to the tech foundry with a new partnership with Calgary-based YYChain.

Blockchains encompass a range of different technologies – including Bitcoin – that utilize distributed sharing amongst users to provide transparency, consensus and trust for transactions.

Terry Ross, the founder of YYChain, sees lots of economic opportunities for Alberta businesses that adopt blockchain technology.

“There is opportunity for new startups to derive value and can be built and create jobs,” he said.

Currently he sees the use of blockchain technology like smart contracts to help lower the transaction costs for existing large enterprises, especially in the oil and gas sector.

Smart contracts are a form of blockchain technology that allow contractual obligations to be automatically evaluated for compliance by software.

Ross believes that relatively low natural gas and electricity costs in the province, along with ideal temperatures for building data facilities give Alberta blockchain startups a competitive edge.

Ross also argues caution, saying that not all businesses should use blockchains, explaining that in some uses where information does not have to be distributed amongst many external users, more traditional database technologies would be better suited.

“The first thing I’d recommend is to get informed before making any sort of determination about blockchain being the right choice.”

Brian McClure, CEO of Innovate Canmore, said that the decision to partner with YYChain was to take advantage of market opportunities that are currently unavailable at other tech incubators across the province.

“Alberta and the industrial infrastructure here has many different facets to it, to which blockchain, and maybe a combination of blockchain technology, AI technology, machine learning and [internet of things] can be brought together,” he said.

“We can find some really interesting niche applications that we can develop and accelerate fairly quickly.”

Innovate Canmore through its connection to Amii and IBM already has strong capabilities to assist entrepreneurs with artificial intelligence and machine learning.

The tech foundry was recently accepted into the Industrial Internet Consortium based on the proficiency of that expertise.

Global venture capital firms and investment banks have bet millions on the adoption of blockchain in the past year, with overall global prospects expected to reach into the billions as the technology matures.

McClure believes that blockchain startups coming out of the Innovate Canmore framework will be able to take advantage of that global interest, and to meet their internal requirements that businesses be $100 million market disruptors.

“Our relationship with Terry Ross has been ongoing for a number of months now, so we’re looking to him to provide the leadership to take us in that direction,” he said.

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