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I’m a millennial, just and I remember many movies growing up but one that blew my mind was the 1995 blockbuster Bad Boys starring Will Smith and Martin Lawrence as super cool detectives, anyone who loved that movie and also appreciates beautiful cars, will remember Will Smiths car, a 1993 Porsche 911 Turbo II 3.6, which actually belonged to the movies director Michael Bay, who lent his car to the production because the studio had a limited budget. When the movie was shown in Germany, executives at Porsche threw a Bad Boys party for the cast. Clearly Porsche execs understood the influential power of being in such a cool movie, with many of those who watched it (including me) aspiring to own an equally as beautiful Porsche (I’m still trying, one day)

Fast forward 22 years and the automotive industry is in chaos, with disruption on all fronts, both from disruptive technology startups in areas such as autonomous and electric cars and changing consumer behaviours such as the growth in on demand ground transportation apps like UBER & Gett (Who VW have invested $300m in). On the tech side, I recently reported on Intel’s acquisition of Israeli driverless tech company Mobileye in a whopping $15.3Billion deal, to read more about that click here

What does this mean for the likes of Porsche? Well on one hand nobody knows exactly when regulation will keep up with the rapid pace of innovation and many of the new technologies become mainstream, now innovative tech tends to appear in the high end of the market first, given the high ticket price of a luxury car can accommodate the initial high costs of new tech, then as the tech becomes cheaper, the lower end of the market introduce these features. So in reality Porsche needs to be at the front of the race to innovate or they could rapidly lose market share. Indeed they still currently have the cool factor, but gone are the days when simply appearing in a cool movie can be the game changer that it was in yesteryears and reputations can quickly be built, take Tesla for example.

It was announced this week that Tesla had overtook Ford in terms of company valuation,
Ford delivered more than 25k cars in the first quarter, up 70% on the same quarter last year. While Tesla’s sales are growing fast they are still a fraction of Ford’s, which sold almost 6.7 million vehicles in 2016. Tesla delivered 76k electric cars last year.

It would be understandable for Ford execs to feel a little hard done by, given the huge gulf in volume of sales, However, investors are excited about the growth potential of Tesla. This year it plans to start selling a cheaper car in the US, the Model 3, which it hopes will have mass market appeal. Five years ago no one knew what a Tesla was. Now people want a Tesla. It has upstaged many manufacturers such as BMW as equally an aspirational car.

Manufacturers such as Porsche are clearly watching this with interest, although not a direct competitor of Ford, given they are at a premium and more luxury price point, they are not going to sit around and just wait to see how things unfold, so Porsche have unveiled a innovation contest.

Founders focusing on blockchain technology can now apply for the Porsche Innovation Contest. In addition to collaborating with the sports car manufacturer, start-ups have the chance win €25k in prize money as well as the opportunity to participate in the “SpinLab – The HHL Accelerator” (Germanys premium accelerator program) for three months.

Porsche aims to obtain external input on the disruptive potential of the blockchain transaction system by collaborating with the start-up scene. The central question is to what extent the application of this technology in the value creation chain of the company makes sense. Moreover, other forms of potential long-term collaboration will be investigated.

Blockchain is a type of digital ledger for contractual transactions between computers. The technology was originally developed for the financial world. The decentralised and extremely transparent booking system has the potential of being extended to the trading of shares, cars, houses, i.e. any type of contractual transfer.

Accompanying support by “SpinLab – The HHL Accelerator”

“SpinLab – The HHL Accelerator” is a useful extension to the field work between the sports car manufacturer and the start-up which will eventually be selected. Located on the premises of an abandoned Leipzig cotton mill, SpinLab not only offers office space in a highly creative and innovative environment but also support in the form of individual coaching sessions over the course of three months. Moreover, there is a close link with the Porsche plant in Leipzig due to its proximity.

Two of the loves of my life are startups and cars, if you share those passions and are working on something cool in blockchain…. then get your application in ASAP.

Applications are being accepted until 15th May 2017, to enter click here

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If you would like to have your company featured in the Irish Tech News Business Showcase, get in contact with us at [email protected] or on Twitter: @SimonCocking

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