What do Delaware, Vermont, and Illinois have in common? These states, as well as New York and Arizona, have all been experimenting with blockchain technology either through research or legislation. These efforts come on the heels of many initiatives, both corporate and governmental, to explore blockchain technology and its application to current business processes and federal practices.

Power to the (Young) People

Illinois, however, stands apart. Slated to begin July 1st, 2017, the Illinois Blockchain Initiative is hosting IBI Hack, a virtual hackathon aimed at students, recent graduates, and blockchain industry leaders. The IBI challenges participants to create projects centered on “e-identity, digitized government, and connected cities,” all of which are part of Illinois’ Smart State Initiative.

Though many states have helped pave the way for blockchain adoption, this unique offering serves to, in the words of Governor Bruce Rauner, empower the younger generation and therefore empowering the future of Illinois.

Illinois is sending a signal to the nation and the world that we will continue to lead and embrace innovation. – Gov. Bruce Rauner

Illinois Blockchain Initiative

Officially announced in December of 2016, the IBI aims to cement Illinois as a hub for innovation, specifically in the Midwest region of the United States.  The IBI is also charged with creating a working ecosystem for developers and businesses, clarifying the murkiness of blockchain-focused regulation and tearing down barriers of entry for would-be entrepreneurs. This, in conjunction with Illinois open collaboration on developing the Transmitters of Money Act (TOMA), sets Illinois up to be a welcoming environment for blockchain businesses and investors.

Sean McCarthy, Acting Director of the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, strongly believes Illinois is the best location for blockchain businesses to establish themselves, explaining, “Our global financial services reach, coupled with a thriving technology ecosystem and access to a world-class university research and talent pool, makes Illinois a great place for blockchain businesses to grow and collaborate.” (Sean McCarthy)

The Hackathon

With support from the Blockchain Education Network and Illinois State University, IBI Hack aims to turn the energy and creativity of students, recent graduates, and experienced blockchain professionals towards specific challenges focused on the many initiatives the State of Illinois is currently undertaking. Specifically, the currently available hackathon challenges are centered on the public sector, such as fraud control or automation of manual processes, and financial technology with a focus on plugging blockchain tech into existing financial processes.

With IBI Hack beginning in just over one week, these results could very much influence the ongoing efforts to clarify government regulations of blockchain and digital currency as well as reinforce McCarthy’s claims, solidifying Illinois as the blockchain hub of the United States.

Register for IBI Hack on their website.