Blockchain Innovation Challenge

About the Challenge

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​The Blockchain Innovation Challenge is making awards totaling $900,000 to ecosystem-first designed approaches driving interoperability, social mobility, and learner control.

The challenge sought technology-enabled solutions that reorient the education and employment ecosystem around the individuals that they aim to serve. It invited teams to articulate a vision and design pilots that address the following themes:

  • Empower all learners: How can learners exercise agency over their digital identities, including all records of learning, so they can share them in a secure, validated, and machine-readable way?
  • Unlock lifelong learning: How can learning be better documented, validated, and shared no matter where it occurs? How can control or ownership of learning records improve the way underserved learners connect and unlock disparate learning opportunities?
  • Improve economic mobility: How can blockchain help learners to find in-demand education in employment-relevant skills to advance economic mobility and to fulfill the promise of higher education?​​
Phase 1 Winners

The Education Blockchain Initiative ​​​Steering Committee selected projects based on their potential to scale across institutions, state​​s, industries, learner populations, learner socioeconomic status, and learner timelines. We believe that the rigorous selection process, including a prescreen and a technical review in addition to the main evaluation, ensured that biases and conflicts of interest were negated and that the winners will be great pilots focusing on different strategies to leverage blockchain.

The four Phase 1 winners of the Blockchain Innovation Challenge are:

Evaluation Criteria

​​​Applications were evaluated on the following criteria (please see the Application Guidelines document (PDF) for detailed definitions):

  • Quality of the ecosystem-first design approach​
  • Quality of the technological approach
  • ​Quality of the management plan and adequacy of resources

For additional information, join the Blockchain Innovation group on ACE Engage, or email ebi@acenet.edu.

Prizes

​The competition consists of two phases. Winning teams will share up to $900,000 in prize money. Phase 1 winners will be awarded up to $150,000 each. Teams that demonstrate interoperability of their Minimum Viable Product (MVP) will receive Phase 2 funding for full implementation of the pilot.

Up to four Phase 2 winners will share the remaining prize balance.

In addition, winners will:

  • Receive national recognition through a variety of channels.
  • Receive leadership opportunities in community engagement to share lessons learned and best practices.
  • Be featured in ACE communications about the Education Blockchain Initiative.
  • Play a key role in working with ACE and other stakeholders to develop potential governance standards.
  • Receive mentorship from leading technology firms.
  • Other opportunities may also be announ​​​ced.

Thank you to Amazon Web Services for its support of the challenge.

About the Applicants

Blockchain Innovation Challenge

Applications for the Challenge are currently closed. Phase 1 winners were announced in February 2021, and Phase 2 winners will be announced in late spring/early summer 2021.

To stay up to date on the Challenge, join the Blockchain Innovation group on ACE Engage.

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