A Bell Labs-inspired initiative for open-source blockchain projects

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Bloq, a startup dedicated to developing enterprise-grade blockchain software, has launched an initiative to support open-source projects in the bitcoin and blockchain industry.

The initiative, called BloqLabs, appears to be an extension of Bloq's prior commitment to fostering the independent software projects of some of its employees.

Among the handful of projects taking part in BloqLabs are bitcoinj, a bitcoin client library used in digital wallet services, and Drivechains, a technology which makes competing blockchain networks compatible with one another. Both are being developed by Bloq staffers.

Bloq's thesis is that there won't be one chain to rule them all. Instead the maturing ecosystem will continue to encompass multiple blockchains, digital tokens and network protocols.

When launched in February 2016, the startup said it was aiming to be a "Red Hat for blockchain," referencing the open-source software giant where Jeff Garzik, Bloq's co-founder and CEO, once worked. That means serving as the connective tissue for multiple systems, mediating between the sometimes ragtag world of open-source software and the needs of enterprise clients.

Although BloqLabs, announced Thursday at the Chamber of Digital Commerce's DC Blockchain Summit, doesn't amount to a full-fledged incubator or skunkworks, it takes its inspiration—and its name—from a famous research-and-development group.

"In the 1900s, Bell Labs become known as 'the Idea Factory' for global telecommunications," Garzik, a longtime bitcoin developer, said in a news release. "BloqLabs can set the tone for the blockchain era and ensure enterprises are tapping into every innovation from our vibrant community of developers."
Few details are yet known about what form BloqLabs might take, but a Bloq representative said Friday that the company would ensure participating projects have the resources they need to put themselves in front of enterprise companies.

"The record is clear: open source is the way to go—it's better, faster, and more secure," Paul Sztorc, an economist at Bloq and the chief architect of Drivechains, said in the release. "I'm thrilled to have Bloq sponsor the project. Few companies are this generous."

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Blockchain Distributed ledger technology Digital currencies