Founded in 2012, Montreal-based blockchain and emerging technology company Leadweb is now seeking to create an innovative supercluster in order to advance Canada’s blockchain movement.
Superclusters bring companies together for the common goal of accelerating growth and industry development. Through partnering with like-minded companies working with blockchain, Leadweb aims to create an ecosystem centered on blockchain, further the development of innovative projects in Canada, and train developers to enter the industry.
Leadweb stated that the supercluster will go ahead with or without federal funding, and their partners like IBM and RBC are committed to working with Leadweb.
In a phone interview with Coinsquare Discover, Leadweb Vice President André Dupont-Moguel, and CEO Louis Cleroux explained the purpose of their supercluster initiative and discussed the limitations currently preventing Canada from being one of the world’s blockchain leaders.
Assembling the team
“When I started working in blockchain, I had no one that was working in blockchain in Montreal,” said Cleroux. “There were so few that it was very difficult to find people.”
To create his team, Cleroux explained that he would regularly check LinkedIn, searching terms like ‘bitcoin’ and ‘blockchain’ in order to find like-minded individuals. Cleroux then began to reach out and meet up with promising pioneers.
“There are lots of very, very interesting people in blockchain technology that I was able to discover,” Cleroux explained. “This is how I started to build an expertise and start finding contracts in blockchain.”
According to Cleroux, approaching a new industry came with many obstacles. Blockchain is a tech-heavy industry, and training developers was – and remains – an important part of the onboarding process.
“The main obstacle that we have is to be able to train people fast enough,” he said. “There’s lots of videos online, lots of articles, but really the best way to teach a [developer] how to understand blockchain is to code with them.”
“We have a small team here in Montreal that we want to promote and be able to teach other [developers] how to code with blockchain technology.”
Blockchain as an emerging technology
Leadweb’s focus is on emerging technologies, but right now they laser in on blockchain and artificial intelligence (AI). As Cleroux explained, emerging technology is always at the forefront of businesses, as new technologies pave the way for innovative solutions.
“Blockchain – what’s very special about it – is that there’s a trust aspect to it. It was not built only to automate processes…” said Cleroux. “But also to make it trustworthy between people and businesses, in order to have the same data at the same time, and use it as proof of what you have done or what you want to accomplish.”
Cleroux’s comments on blockchain are aligned with what many praise about the technology. As he explained, however, the team aims to eliminate the negative connotation that is sometimes attributed to blockchain.
“What we want to accomplish is to be able to bring blockchain technology to the standard level for businesses. Right now it’s very scary for lots of companies,” he said. “I want to bring blockchain technology in the market and make it more easy for people to use.”
Canada’s blockchain movement is in the ‘early stages’
“I think right now we’re a bit behind compared to the U.S.,” said Cleroux, when discussing the state of Canada’s blockchain industry. “I think even Europe is a bit more advanced than us.”
According to Cleroux, Canada is in the “early, early stage” of the blockchain movement. As evidence, he cited the number of digital currencies created in Canada, versus the number of coins created internationally, noting that “we are way far behind.”
Digital currencies are separate to their underlying blockchain technology, and there are certainly enthusiasts that are only interested in one or the other. However, Cleroux said Canada’s comparatively low volume of bitcoin trading is another key indicator that Canada needs to work harder on its presence in the blockchain space. He stated that this is because individuals that own digital currencies are more likely to be interested in blockchain.
What Canada needs to do to advance the industry
Both Cleroux and Dupont-Moguel state that, while regulatory processes are beginning in Canada, they have a long way to go. The Leadweb team stressed the importance of clearly defined laws for investors and blockchain companies to abide by.
“We have no law, no structures, nothing to base ourselves on. Every time we try to find a solution for a problem, it brings other problems afterwards,” said Cleroux. “There’s lots of tax regulations that we are not aware of, [so] we try to work our best with the Big Four [accounting firms] to find solutions.”
Dupont-Moguel furthered Cleroux’s point, noting that the Canadian government is willing to tax digital currencies, but is not yet willing to give them legal status. He explained that clearly defined legislation will help businesses and investors engage with the industry.
Building the next step for Leadweb
Despite a lack of clear government guidance, the team praises the government for grants made available to them thanks to their location in Canada. With these grants and government R&D credits, Leadweb hopes to greatly expand their team and train more developers in the blockchain industry.
Currently, Leadweb is building an innovative supercluster of companies, combining many industries that work with blockchain for a greater purpose. While the supercluster is yet to secure federal funding, Leadweb and partners like RBC and IBM are still committed to the project and will continue attempting to further Canada’s blockchain movement.
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