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Sovrin backed incubator selects four blockchain identity startups


Yesterday it was announced that the Self-Sovereign Identity Incubator (SSII) chose four digital identity startups to support. The incubator is run by non-profit blockchain organization the Sovrin Foundation and identity tech investment firm Hard Yaka. Startups Domi, MetaDigital, Spaceman ID, and Xertify will participate after being selected out of over 100 applicants.

Berlin-based Domi aims to build digital passports for landlords and tenants to create trust in the rental market. Canadian MetaDigital Inc. is a platform for healthcare, hoping to use decentralized digital identities to reduce prescription and insurance fraud.

Spaceman ID Inc. is a Chicago founded firm providing identity tools to businesses, allowing them to implement secure, private digital credentials. Finally, Xertify, based in Bogotá Colombia, is a blockchain network where users and organizations can exchange trusted information. Of the four, it most resembles what the Sovrin Network does.

The first of its kind, the SSII will fund each of the four selected firms to the tune of $180,000 and run a 12-week program, which aims to fast track their identity-focused projects. Teams from each startup will work directly with Sovrin.

The Foundation’s CEO, Heather C. Dahl, stated: “We are thrilled to welcome these outstanding teams to San Francisco as the first participants in the SSI Incubator.”

“The work these companies will undertake at SSII will have a far-reaching impact beyond the identity community. From housing to education to healthcare to overall enterprise adoption, these startups have the opportunity to replace outdated systems of digital data exchange while respecting individual data rights,” she continued.

Sovrin launched its public network to organizations in March, after a ‘soft’ release in 2017. Dahl will represent Sovrin as a panelist at the SSII kickoff event on September 17th, along with Daniel Buchner from Microsoft, Pelle Brændgaard, the CTO of uPort, and Greg Kidd, the founder of globaliD and Hard Yaka. The moderator of the panel will be Brian Behlendorf, the Executive Director of Hyperledger.

What is SSI?

SSI allows users control of their identity and credentials, such as qualifications. For this reason, multiple projects aimed at recruitment are in the works, including blockchain services from SK Telecom and PwC. In this example, the idea is to benefit both parties in the hiring process since an applicant can verify the company is genuine, and the hirer can verify the applicant’s qualifications.

So how does blockchain come in? Sovrin doesn’t actually store details on its ledger, as users decide where their data goes. Instead, public decentralized identifiers (DiDs) of organizations are on the blockchain. This way, they can be trusted and verified.

So a user can choose to share their degree qualification, and the hiring company could verify this with the DiD of the university. The company wouldn’t have to enquire about the user individually, just that the credential was signed with the university’s DiD, which is good news for privacy advocates.