Interview with Junction CEO: How does Europe’s Biggest Hackathon Meets Blockchain
November 23, Junction 2018, the biggest hackathon in Europe, was successfully held in Helsinki, Finland. Junction is a 48-hour international hackathon that brings together developers, designers, and entrepreneurs from all around the world and helps them to develop technical solutions to the real-world challenges. This is also the first time for Junction to set up a blockchain track, and invite blockchain startups including Bytom, NEO, and PCHAIN to be their partners in this grand event. As the co-organizer and the cooperation media of the Junction blockchain track, 8BTC honored invite Junction CEO Iiro Nurmi to demonstrated his point of view on blockchain.
8BTC: Junction is the biggest hackathon in Europe, but it may not be as famous in China. So can you introduce some outstanding points that make Junction unique?
Iiro Nurmi: Junction is the biggest hackathon in the world. While we are not doing this for profit, but for our own hobbies. We are very concerned about our participants and partners’ experience in Junction and whether they can benefit from this event. In the meantime, Junction itself is quite international, it attracts more than 1,000 participants from 105 countries come to Helsinki. Over 60 tech giants, including Facebook, Nokia, Accenture, and Intel become our partner and attend this event.
8BTC: What do you think of the mission of Junction?
Iiro Nurmi: Basically, we are aiming to empower people with technology and promoting more innovations in various areas. We hope everyone may have a basic understanding of technology, and we are also willing to support industry experts to conduct in-depth research in their fields. However, keep researching on a single project for several years may make developers getting bored, and even performing badly in their work. But when they back to Junction, we hope they can recover their passion, come up with new ideas in their research and develop more brilliant technical projects later on.
8BTC: Since Junction has hosted many hackathons, you may get to know a lot of developers from all over the world. So can you tell us the difference between Chinese and Finnish developers?
Iiro Nurmi: We have run a small hackathon at Tsinghua University before, and my impression of Chinese developers is that they are so great! Their technical skills are perfect, and their projects are full of imaginations. For local developers in Finland, I think they are also professional, but lack of self-promotion awareness in general. They are more likely to diving deep and doing things quietly. For example, Martti Malmi, the first core developer of Bitcoin project, a typical Finnish developer. He is brilliant but may not be so popular in crypto communities. Actually, many excellent blockchain projects and startups were born in Finland. For instance, Linux is also a Finland-based open-source version of the UNIX operating system and I believe native Finnish developers have a strong open source spirit.
8BTC: Some believe 2018 is a year of blockchain, so what do you think of the technology itself?
Iiro Nurmi: Actually, I don’t think that blockchain technology has been widely adopted yet. At present, the major application of the blockchain is in cryptocurrency. Honestly, I haven’t invested in cryptocurrency yet because it’s too addictive and I do not want to be addicted (laughs). Cryptocurrency price fluctuates rapidly, and I hope it can be more stable one day. At that time, the usability of cryptocurrency may be enhanced a lot. In general, I still sit on the sidelines of blockchain technology, but we can see many countries and large companies are conducting R&D on this technology. For instance, they have mainly adopted blockchain in supply chain tracing and voting application scenarios.
In the meantime, I would love to see people are paying more attention to blockchain technology. However, I also hate those companies that using the concept of blockchain to make marketing hype without doing any practical work. In general, a new technology always emerges along with hype and bubbles. we still have to wait a year or two to see large-scale blockchain applications in the real world. Many people believe that blockchain will revolutionize the world, just like the Internet did in the early days. Blockchain has promising prospects, but it still takes time.
8BTC: It is the first time for Junction to set up a blockchain track. Can you tell us why you decided to do this and tell the story behind this decision?
Iiro Nurmi: Actually, we started to think about setting up a blockchain track since this January. At that time, some of our partners showed their interests in blockchain, but we failed to reach cooperation for some reasons. Fortunately, we met the Digital Renaissance Foundation later on. When we talk about blockchain, I didn’t really know what they were saying as most of their conversations were in Chinese, but in the end, we reached consensus and decided to set up a blockchain track at Junction this year (laugh). Now we have plenty of partners in blockchain field, including Bytom, NEO, and PCHAIN to participate in Junction 2018. In general, I believe a lot of people are very interested in blockchain, and certain blockchain technologies can also be used to solve problems in other technical tracks.
8BTC: What kinds of activities have Junction held in China before? And what are the plans for Junction in the future?
Iiro Nurmi: In the past, Tsinghua University has sent development teams that composed of their students to participate in Junction activities. Since then, Tsinghua and Junction keep in touch with each other and maintain a friendly relationship. When we felt the time was right, we decided to held a small hackathon in China and put a lot of efforts into it. Finally, we held the JUNCTIONx-Hackathon at Tsinghua University this May and that is the first time for us to hold an event in China. In fact, there are more than 20 students from Tsinghua University participate in Junction 2018. In the future, we will keep eyeing colleges and universities, as we are an organization that is basically run by students, and our staff structure is quite young.