Seminar 2 - Blockchain & Innovation for Digital Society

7-11 June 2021
Blockchain & Innovation
Hybrid Seminar

Second Seminar

On June 7th, students from Bucharest (Romania), Lyon (France), Milan (Italy) and Passau (Germany) were immersed for a week in the French start-up ecosystem through the second seminar of the ‘Future IT Leader for a Multicultural Digital Europe – FIT Europe’ project. This project, co-funded by the Erasmus+ Programme, is intended to provide IT students with high level European training on emerging technologies (such as Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, Blockchain and Assistive Robotics) along with its related socioeconomic implications (such as innovation, multiculturalism, ethics or privacy). The four academic institutions (INSA Lyon, Politehnica Bucharest, Università degli Studi di Milano, Universität Passau) and their corporate partners (La French Tech One, IT Center for Science and Technology CITST, Engineering SPA, ATOS) have gathered forces to promote IT graduates’ employability with the FIT Europe project.

During the Lyon seminar, the 19 participating students addressed the thematic of blockchain in its fundamental and practical aspects through three cornerstones, developing essential competencies and soft skills for their future career. The first cornerstone was the high-level scientific keynotes on the technical and fundamental aspects of the blockchain proposed by academic and industrial experts. Thanks to those keynotes, the students could acquire skills on the most advanced scientific topics in the field. Then, the second cornerstone of the seminar consisted in presentations given by industrials of various sizes (from start-ups to large companies) that widened the technical approach offered in the keynotes by dealing with the implementation of blockchain and its applications in the general ecosystem of digital. The IT master students could face the reality of integrating blockchain in an already existing ecosystem. Finally, the third cornerstone of this seminar consisted in four challenges proposed by four French start-ups. This opportunity allowed the students to work in international teams, developing intercultural skills, and to reflect on real cases from the start-ups’ current environment.

A different academic approach was offered to IT master students
  • Researchers and industrials from France, Germany, Italy and Romania conducted high-level keynotes that enriched the skills and knowledge of the participating students regarding the technology, its transfer and integration in existing systems and its impact on society.
  • Thanks to the possibility of hybrid training, students were given a previous access to online courses dealing with the fundamental basis of blockchain in order to participate to the seminar with core knowledge on the topic.
  • The overall objective of the Lyon seminar was to enable computer science Master students to understand better both the technical aspects and the potential of blockchain technology.
Expert Talks
    During the seminar, multiple expert talks took place:
  • Fundamentals of Blockchains and Cryptocurrencies, Omar Hasan
  • How to Master the Energy Impact of Blockchain?, Hans Reiser (University of Passau) & Christian Berger (University of Passau)
  • Implications of Platform Economy for Business Models, Roland Wossildo (ATOS)
  • Business Impact of Blockchain or more Generally, Business Impact of Emerging Technologies on ICT Companies, George Darie (Modex)
  • Making Personal Data Portability more Effective in the Digital Economy, Jan Kramer (University of Passau)
  • Building a Decentralized, Trusted and Privacy-preserving Computing Infrastructure, Gilles Fedak (iExec)
  • Blockchain Based Reputation Systems, Ernesto Damiani (University of Milan), Y. Iraqi (Khalifa University) & A. Battah (Khalifa University)
  • Mir-BFT: High-Throughput Robust BFT for Decentralized Networks, Marko Vukolic (IBM)
  • Blockchain ICT Platform for Assets and Transactions Management, Ferdinando Bosco (Engineering) & Giuseppe Raveduto (Engineering)
  • Consensus Protocols for the Blockchain, Sonia Ben Moktar (LIRIS, INSA Lyon)

Facilitating interactions and networking between students and experts
    FIT Europe is also meant to facilitate interactions and networking between students and experts through discussions and collaborative work, a real challenge for a remote seminar. However, after the experts’ keynotes the participants had the opportunity to meet and network in a virtual coffee room on Glowbl. The platform, laureate of the “Scale-up Excellence” program supported by La French Tech, offered more than a typical digital seminar. Indeed, students and experts could virtually navigate between rooms in which they could participate to discussions around different tables just like if they were attending an in-person event. This innovative video-conferencing tool enabled networking among people from all over Europe in a period in which travelling is not possible.
Students worked in competition during the entire week
  • Should blockchain be integrated to the existing system of the start-up?
  • Which solution should be used in a given context?
  • Can blockchain be leveraged with the Internet of Things?

  • Gathered in 4 international teams, the participating students worked in competition during the entire week on projects presented by Aitenders, Iexec, Equisafe and Kresus, 4 start-ups working with La French Tech One. Despite the fact that the seminar could not be held in-person, the computer science students could implement the skills they acquired throughout the week by working on challenges currently faced by start-ups. Four mentors from the start-ups, followed and guided each team so that their project would be aligned with the start-up ambitions.
Input of the Seminar
    After the presentations, a time was dedicated to the debriefing and discussions when students and experts debated on many topics, such as the future of blockchain, technology’s sustainability or the start-up world. Thanks to the survey tool integrated in the Glowbl platform, the FIT Europe team could ask the students if they would want to create their own start-up in the future. And what a surprise for them when they discovered that 50% of the respondents answered positively to the question! Indeed, during the following discussion, some of the students explained that they were already working on creating their start-up and that the FIT Europe seminar reinforced their desire to become start-uppers. After these enriching discussions came the moment to award the team that presented the best project in the morning. However, the jury announced they could not choose a winning team as all four projects were of high-level quality.