A new Waterloo Region organization calling itself ETHWaterloo is planning a three-day Ethereum-based hackathon for this autumn, aiming to push the boundaries of blockchain technology and “build the future of the decentralized Internet,” the group said Monday.

The event is slated to run the weekend of Oct. 13-15 and will take place in Waterloo at CIGI, the Centre for International Governance Innovation.

“There’s just an enormous amount of attraction and interest in this space in general and Ethereum itself has received a great amount of attention, which is phenomenal,” said ETHWaterloo co-founder Liam Horne. Horne is also the Director of Engineering at Atomic and co-founded the Hack the North event at University of Waterloo in 2014.

More people now realize the potential of the technology, but what has not really been moving at the same pace, but I think really needs to be, is just more developer interest.”

Ethereum is the open-source, blockchain-based, scripting platform co-founded by Russian-Canadian Vitalik Buterin, 23, a former University of Waterloo student who has been described as a “cryptocurrency prophet.”

Blockchain, along with the Internet of Things and artificial intelligence, is widely considered to be one of the cutting-edge areas of technology. Ethereum’s related cryptocurrency Ether reached a market capitalization of $30 billion earlier this year; a few weeks ago, Ted Livingston, CEO of Waterloo-based messaging company Kik, announced plans to roll out a cryptocurrency based on Ethereum called Kin.

Buterin, an international celebrity among cryptocurrency enthusiasts, will serve as a judge of the October hackathon, along with Joseph Lubin, Jeff Coleman, William Mougayar, Joey Krug and Stephen Tual.

“My hope is that by running an event that directly attracts talented developers, and connects them with people like Vitalik and other key developers in the area, we can kind of convert, if you will, people to the technology and [encourage them to build] applications on top of it,” said Horne, adding that he and Buterin were classmates at University of Waterloo.

“I think it’s one of the most interesting technologies I’ve ever stumbled across [and] I’ve been enthralled by it from Day 1. If I can do a small part in helping grow the ecosystem then that’s very exciting for me.”

Horne said he is additionally keen to see Waterloo Region play a role in the development of the technology, particularly since Ethereum’s roots reach back to Waterloo through Buterin.

This is yet another attempt to [show] the world that what we’re building here is interesting, that if you’re interested in building great technology this is a great place to be.

“I saw this [opportunity] to attract great talent and ideas and put them all together to create an event that really couldn’t exist any other place.”

Applications for the hackathon will open later this summer, ETHWaterloo said, and developers can register for notification now at ethwaterloo.com.

About The Author

Craig Daniels
Senior Journalist

Craig Daniels is a veteran reporter, columnist and editor who has joined Communitech’s editorial team as senior journalist. He worked most recently at Postmedia in Hamilton, where he led the team that produced the National Post, and before that at the Globe and Mail, the Toronto Sun, Financial Post, the Montreal Daily News and the Telegraph-Journal in Saint John, N.B. He has an abiding interest in the transformational power and promise of tech and startup ecosystems, is a commercially licensed pilot, and has a debilitating wrist-watch fetish.