Berlin is one of the capitals of Europe’s startup scene and in 2013, the Guardian described it as the “crypto capital of Europe”. Widely known as the technology powering the digital cryptocurrency Bitcoin, Blockchain has been often touted as one of the most important pieces of technology to be invented since the Internet. Many tech futurists describe Blockchain as being one of the most disruptive and important discoveries of our ages. So how healthy is the Berlin blockchain ecosystem in 2018 and is there still a big interest in this muchly hyped technology?
Berlin’s blockchain ecosystem is split into many segments including cryptocurrency, IoT, FinTech, and IP/Identification but it still remains relatively small overall in comparison to London or New York City. What it lacks in size though, it does make up for in diversity, as evidenced by the large variety of projects, ample networking opportunities, an array of Blockchain Meetups to attend, and a high quota of skilled tech talent.
Gonzalo Sanchez Slik is the Head of Investor Relations and Business Development at Brickblock, one of the first services to offer asset-backed tokens on the blockchain within a secure and regulatory compliant framework. In the coming weeks, Brickblock will list the world’s first tokenized building which will allow investors to buy digital shares of a real estate asset, legally entitling them to the profits of the underlying asset. With Berlin’s real estate market in an intense growth phase with average property prices increasing by 20% in 2017, Slik sees opportunity in the traditional sectors such as real estate and logistics. He sees massive opportunities in both markets since historically they’ve been very inefficient and “often restrictive, costly, and in need of innovation”.
Whilst the cash-driven Berlin economy has been embracing bitcoin, there are also many alternative use cases for blockchain technology in Berlin, including startups that address financial and social inclusion by leveraging the technology to assist refugees with banking and digital identity.
For those wanting to join the blockchain scene in Berlin, there are many opportunities that aren’t just in technical positions. Slik believes that “the biggest need for the [Blockchain] space is to have more people from the business side and sales to jump into the space. People that understand how to present complicated ideas into simple, easy to understand messaging” and this leaves opportunities open for more entrepreneurs to capitalize in this space.
Slik loves how international working and living in Berlin is. He describes networking in the city as “one of the best, where people are interested in ideas and what you are building. There really is no hierarchy. And art/design constantly meet with tech. And that is important for growth in the tech space”.