Edinburgh to host global blockchain tech conference

More than 200 attendees from around the world have already signed up to take part in a conference being held in Edinburgh next month to discuss the development of blockchain technology.

RBS's Gogaburn headquarters will host the ScotChain16 conference. Picture: Cate Gillon

Panel discussions will include topics such as financial services, supply chain management, healthcare, digital rights and insurance, and organiser MBN Solutions, the specialist data science recruitment firm, said the conference will focus on Scotland’s potential to become a “powerhouse” of blockchain – a digital technique for proving ownership of assets that underpins the electronic “cryptocurrency” cash system dubbed bitcoin.

The inaugural ScotChain16 event, being held on 11 November at Royal Bank of Scotland’s Gogarburn headquarters, has been organised by MBN Solutions in partnership with Spiritus Partners, RBS, Deloitte, insolvency trade body R3 and blockchain specialists BigchainDB and Blockstream.

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MBN Solutions chief executive Michael Young. Picture: Contributed

Michael Young, chief executive of the Glasgow-based recruiter, said: “Never before will have so many leading blockchain companies assembled in Scotland to help their audience focus on realities and hype of distributed ledger technologies. We hope this event illustrates how Scotland is blazing a trail in this important technological area.”

Although financial technology – or fintech – has huge potential for Scotland in the years ahead, academics at the University of Strathclyde have warned that failing to adopt the latest innovations could lead to the loss of 14,000 jobs and £635 million in wages.

Last year saw £10 billion invested in fintech start-ups globally and Daniel Broby, director of the university’s Centre for Financial Regulation & Innovation, has predicted that the sector has the potential to create nearly 15,000 jobs in Scotland over ten years.

Bill Cook, a senior executive at Scottish Enterprise with responsibility for identifying fintech opportunities that will benefit the country’s economy, said: “This is a prestigious event focused on helping Scottish businesses to galvanise their knowledge of blockchain.

MBN Solutions chief executive Michael Young. Picture: Contributed

“We hope this event will show the rest of the UK, Europe and the world at large that Scotland has the skills, the outlook and the people to realise value through blockchain.”

Speakers at ScotChain16 will include Bob Clint, the co-founder and chief technology officer at Spiritus Partners, a US data analytics start-up that focuses on medical safety and has chosen Edinburgh as its new base.

Spiritus chief executive Susan Ramonat said: “ScotChain16 puts the spotlight on Scotland’s significant assets as a globally competitive IT sourcing location. It also highlights the nation’s commitment to supporting entrepreneurial ventures focused on solving tough problems at the intersection of business and society.”

She added: “Scotland’s IT talent is top flight and growing – the fruit of strong collaboration between the business community, universities and its innovation centres, including the Data Lab, Digital Health & Care Institute, and Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre.”

Deloitte director Kent Mackenzie, who leads the accounting giant’s fintech business in Scotland, will also be speaking at next month’s conference.

He said: “Blockchain has the potential to play a massive role in disrupting many industries, not least financial services. Drawing together a cohort of technologists, sectors SMEs and industry experts sets the tone for what will be a fascinating day.”