List of European Blockchain Experts: First Version Published, Call for Participation
Some weeks ago, we conducted a survey to identify the key blockchain experts in Europe. With this article we publish the first version of the list of experts. The goal is to collect a comprehensive list of experts in Europe — in various domains, regions and technologies. It is therefore a good outlet for experts in Europe to become more visible. The list is published including contact details to allow people to get an overview of blockchain experts in the European Union. For the first version of the list, we evaluated more than 200 experts based on the criteria and the method that is explained below. You can still participate by filling out the survey (5–10 minutes) for the next version of the list; it is still open. Find the survey here. — Authors: Philipp Sandner, Ruben Holzfuss, Veronika Kütt
“List of European Blockchain Experts” publicly available in first version
An excerpt of the “List of European Blockchain Experts” can be seen in Table 1. The full list can be accessed here as Google List (link sharing is switched on). It includes in this first version 228 experts. You can also download the entire list from there. The reason to be qualified to be listed as expert is twofold: 1) content qualification and 2) formal qualification. Both aspects were necessary for the applicants to be listed in the “List of European Blockchain Experts.” The criteria for experts qualifying to be in this list are indicated below. Not every application to become part of this list could be considered.
Call for participation: the survey to the list of experts is still open
Join the “List of European Blockchain Experts”. You can find the survey here if you are interested in becoming part of this list. The survey takes about 5–10 minutes and aims to identify key players and initiatives in the European blockchain environment. With this database we are mapping the European blockchain ecosystem in order to provide better support in innovation for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Europe. The outcome of this survey — including a list of experts — is published online (e.g. article on Medium).
Results concerning the experts
Table 2 shows the distribution of organizations in the “List of European Blockchain Experts”. We asked survey participants to categorize the organization they work for. Note that participants are able to classify their organization in more than one type. Naturally, this leads to a table with more entries than actual participants in the survey. In the list, there are 135 companies are corporate initiatives and 130 startups. 96 of the participants are working in academic research. These numbers clearly show that a huge share of experts are start-ups. A significant share is in the area of academic research. One reason for this is that blockchain still is in the early stage of development.
Table 3 offers insights in the budget that the organizations in the survey have. One important insight from this table is a significant share of the companies spend over €1 million. Yet, the lion’s share of the expert have small budgets.
Table 4 presents the amount of people that are familiar with a specific blockchain technology. This question did not ask for IT development experience but rather concerns the “familiarity” with a specific framework. As such, the absolute numbers are not as interesting as the distribution of weights. Participants were able to give multiple answers to this question. Most of the participants in our survey are familiar with the two largest permissionless blockchain systems Bitcoin and Ethereum. Thereafter, Hyperledger and Corda are ranked. The experts are less familiar with Quorum, Stellar or other technologies.
Blockpool: a project to support adoption of blockchain technologies among SMEs
This survey is an initiative of Blockpool, a project funded under the EU-program Horizon 2020 and coordinated by the Frankfurt School Blockchain Center aiming at fostering blockchain adoption in the EU. Cooperating partners of the Blockpool project are the Frankfurt School Blockchain Center, the University of Nicosia, the European Crowdfunding Network, the Fraunhofer Center for International Management and Knowledge Economy IMW, the European Regional Framework for Cooperation, Insomnia Consulting, and N-Able.
The Blockpool project is funded by the European Union with the aim to enhance SME innovation capacity, by accelerating the cross-border uptake and deployment of blockchain and other distributed ledger technologies (DLT) to European SMEs. The project therefore focuses on BDLTs at a post-prototyping stage that SMEs can adapt to their business through blockchain-testing activities, that can be either demonstration-oriented or/and focused on adaptation.
Evaluation criteria to quality as expert
The following examples explain how the evaluation criteria are used to determine blockchain expertise. The ranking is done by two main categories — formal quality and content quality — each having five levels (that is, one through five) with five being the best. Those experts qualify to be on the list if they show both, content quality (i.e. grade C3 or higher) and formal quality (i.e., grade F3 or higher)
Evaluation of the content quality
The content quality is determined by different factors such as the amount of technologies that the participant is familiar with, the amount of technologies that the participants have development experience with, the amount of time that participants have experience with the defined technologies, previous projects, number of jurisdictions that the participant was familiar with, the quality of the references that are given by the participants and the current position title of the participant.
The minimum requirement to qualify for the “List of European Blockchain Experts” on the dimension of content quality is C3. This means that participants need at least one year experience in the field and some previous projects or one’s own project as a founder. We take this as a threshold since we believe that at least one year experience is needed to get a solid foundation of knowledge and connection in the blockchain ecosystem. Development experience is therefore not explicitly required since we believe that an experts does not necessarily need to have programming skills. Since this can of course be disputed, the astute reader is welcome to download the list and experiment with own filters to accommodate IT development expertise.
Level C3. Everybody in this category has more than one year experience in the field with more than one project. There is often still a lack in the development experience but people are familiar with a lot of technologies in that area. Experts with only one project can be found in this area if they have development experience or if they worked for the same blockchain project or company for a really long time (3–4 years). Participants also have good references for their projects and the work that they have done in the area. All of the participants know at least one jurisdiction.
Example: One participant entered that he is project lead for a blockchain project with an insurance company. He also emphasized that he has a good overview about developments in the blockchain ecosystem and a very good network with DLT stakeholders. He knows the German jurisdictions about blockchain.
Level C4. Participants achieve a “C4” grade if they acquired everything from the previous grade and some development experience. The most important factor for distinguishing the “C3” grade from the “C4” grade was the development experience. Many participants had several years of experience with several projects, however a lot of them lack the development experience and therefore the in-depth direct experience with the technology. The length of the development experience did not matter for the evaluation in this category. There are also some exceptions to this rule. Sometimes we graded people from “C3” to “C4” if participants had really good references or if they worked at a university and therefore did research or educated students in the area of blockchain.
Example: One participant entered that he had several projects with a bank and is familiar with 8 technologies (Bitcoin, Corda, Ethereum, Hyperledger, Stellar, Ripple, Litecoin, IOTA) but has no development experience yet. He argued that he has extensive project experience, which was also stated in his or her LinkedIn profile and in the references. He knows a variety of different jurisdictions in Europe.
Level C5. C5 is the highest grade that can be achieved. Participants have achieved all the criteria necessary for being “C4” and they have a “special reference” or long development experience. Something that makes them stand out from the other people in the “C4” category.
Example: A participant from Spain entered that he is familiar with 4 different technologies (Bitcoin, Ethereum, Hyperledger, Quorum) and development experience with Solidity. He worked on many different projects such as Alastria. He also has academic experience. His or her extensive experience made him outstanding from the criteria set out for the category “F4”.
Distribution within the resulting list (N=228):
- Score C5: 35 participants
- Score C4: 104 participants
- Score C3: 89 participants
Evaluation of the formal quality
The main factors for the evaluation of the formal quality is the amount of language mistakes that have been made by the participants when filling out the survey. The main source of mistakes of participants’ submission are spelling mistakes, degree of understandability, grammar mistakes, and capitalization errors. The reasoning behind making formal quality an important dimension to qualify for applicants to be on the list is the following: If participants made so many mistakes during the survey that we had difficulties understanding what they mean or if an extraordinary number of mistakes were in the reponses, this typically is an indication of quality. Also, based on funding of the Blockpool project we did not have sufficient funds to correct all errors done by the participants.
Hence, we apply a minimum requirement concerning formal quality such that a participant qualities to be on the “List of European Blockchain Experts”. The minimum requirement of the formal quality of the list is a level of F3.
At the outset, every participant starts on a level of F5. Every mistake is counted as “-1” for their score. There is no possibility to get a higher score (i.e., “+1”) through an outstanding formal quality. A mistake can therefore not be compensated. Put differently, the score cannot increase anymore.
These examples provide an important reference point for the evaluation. A certain score is difficult to assign objectively. The individual evaluation of the references provided and also the argumentation on the question “What do you think makes you an expert?” can also have an impact on the evaluation.
Example: If a participant did a spelling mistake in the “Jurisdictions — Field”, his or her score would go down from F5 to F4. If the same person would then also have provided an answer to a question that could simply not been understood, his or her score would go down from F4 to F3.
Distribution within the resulting list (N=228):
- Score F5: 169 participants
- Score F4: 53 participants
- Score F3: 6 participants
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- Blockchain knowledge: We wrote a Medium article on how to acquire the necessary blockchain knowledge within a workload of 10 working days.
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Prof. Dr. Philipp Sandner has founded the Frankfurt School Blockchain Center (FSBC). From 2018 to 2021, he was ranked among the “top 30” economists by the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ), a major newspaper in Germany. He has been a member of the FinTech Council and the Digital Finance Forum of the Federal Ministry of Finance in Germany. He is also on the Board of Directors of FiveT Fintech Fund, 21e6 Capital and Blockchain Founders Group — companies active in venture capital financing for blockchain startups and crypto asset investment management. The expertise of Prof. Sandner includes crypto assets such as Bitcoin and Ethereum, decentralized finance (DeFi), the digital euro, tokenization of assets, and digital identity. You can contact him via mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) via LinkedIn or follow him on Twitter (@philippsandner).
Ruben Lukas Holzfuss is student studying International Management at the Frankfurt School of Finance and Management. He first got in contact with blockchain technology during his exchange semester in Melbourne. He discovered the potential of the technology during that time and decided to work on a bachelor thesis concerning blockchain topics after returning to Frankfurt in 2019. Current projects include the bachelor thesis including a small collaboration with the Blockpool project for the data acquisition. You can contact him via mail (email@example.com) or LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/ruben-lukas-holzfuß-b1a73b12b/)
Veronika Kütt, mathematician, dedicated auto-didact and a decentralization enthusiast joined Frankfurt School Blockchain Center in 2018, currently coordinating an EU-funded project (Horizon2020), Blockpool, which is aiming at fostering Blockchain adoption for SMEs in the EU. Today, she concentrates on unpermissioned and open blockchain structures, mainly Bitcoin, as well as its second layer implementation, the Lightning network, which aims at solving the scalability problem of open blockchains.