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NATEA US Taiwan High-Tech Forum: Dawn of new blockchain era

New trends and tech advances are emerging from the horizon of blockchain technology. On the second day (Nov.13th, Taipei time) of the 2021 U.S. Taiwan High-Tech Forum (UTHF) hosted by the North America Taiwanese Engineering and Science Association (NATEA), Blockchain experts including Edward Chang, adjunct professor at Stanford University, Andrew Tang, chair of the executive committee at Draper University, Clara Tsao, founding officer and director of Filecoin Foundation shared insights in new technologies and latest trends.

This second day was moderated by Jane Lu, a rising star in digital transformation and passion for gender equality.

Edward Chang kicked off the event by giving an overview of the fundamental problems in blockchain and talked about the Soteria system that he collaborated with National Taiwan University professor Shih-Wei Liao. The system, named after the Greek Goddess of Protection, complies with major privacy regulations such as GDPR/CCPA/HIPAA. This hybrid, multi-tier blockchain aims to meet all three key important attributions, namely, "partition tolerance", "consistency", and "availability" of Eric Brewer's CAP Theorem.

Chang also commented that "secure medical data sharing", "NFT marketplace", "cross-border payments", "anti-money laundering tracking system", "supply-chain and logistic monitoring", "voting mechanism", and "advertisement insights" are promising applications of blockchain. While "hybrid blockchain", "elastic blockchain", and "flexible scaling among latency, consistency, and safety" are good themes for research.

Blockchain startups

Andrew Tang shared his experience of identifying startups that become unicorns. He said the key characteristics of unicorn companies are companies that go after very large markets and have a technology or solution that is several magnitudes better than the competition. It is typically a company that has a team that lasts for more than 10 years.

The founding team will have two or more core members that are domain experts in the space with at least one strong technical person.

Tang is confident that the next frontier is "Metaverse" and "Blockchain" that will create new demands for services, infrastructure, and accelerate the developments of new technologies such as "smart contracts."

How do individual industries collaborate with blockchain technologies? And how do they create and innovate together? Tang's advice is to start with something small when collaborating with big companies. "Never start with a master service agreement that would take you two years to negotiate," he said. Startup would want to start with something very small, simple, and then figure out the counterparty in those organizations, because normally there are multiple hierarchies to get approvals. "By the time the agreement gets everyone's stamp, that startup may already be dead," Tang said.

Tang is optimistic that Taiwan can play a huge role in blockchain for the future. He stressed that blockchain is an industry that levels the playing field across countries, regardless of the size of the country, and the wealth of the country given the nature that many blockchain projects are developed without borders. This suits Taiwan well.

"It's got a huge advantage because of its highly educated workforce, highly technical. And then a very reasonable cost of living, an extremely well-guarded and rule of law protects intellectual property".

Finally, Tang pointed out that Taiwan has lots of experts working with the National Development Fund (NDF) and has the ability to work with the government regulators to enable friendly blockchain policies that enable innovation to happen.

Clara Tsao, Founding Officer and Director of Filecoin Foundation shared how her organization is building a distributed internet, or Web 3, by having more than 3000 storage providers all around the world with more than 12 exabytes of storage capacity to preserve the world's digital information. Filecoin Foundation has a strong advisory group that includes the founder of the Internet archive with the mission to support the creation of open-source software and protocols for decentralized data storage and retrieval networks. It gives grants to project like Starling lab that archives over 45,000 videos of testimonials of genocide survivors through the USC Shoah Foundation.

Tsao said China's crackdown on its crypto mining industry is good for decentralization in cryptocurrency, and Taiwan and other parts of Asia that are crypto-friendly are likely to benefit from this.

Clara Tsao also joined Serra Wei, founder and CEO of Aegis Custody, and Sophia Zhao, principal of AVG Blockchain Fund in a panel moderated by YJ Chen, Reddit engineering manager, to discuss the latest trends in blockchain including Non-fungible token (NFT) and Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO). These women leaders in blockchain also touched on the importance of gender inclusion and diversity as an important element for this industry to thrive in the future.

The global blockchain market is expected to have a YOY growth rate of 19% in 2021 and is supposed to grow at a CAGR of over 32% between 2020 and 2025, according to Technavio, a market research company.

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