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High-level support for Bermuda at tech event

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Making connections: the Bermuda delegation panel at the Montgomery summit in Santa Monica, California. On the panel from the left are John Narraway, Wayne Caines, Chris Garrod and Aron Dutta (Photograph supplied)

A billionaire venture capitalist has been invited to join the global advisory board of the Bermuda Digital Asset Exchange as the Bermuda Government drives forward its ambitions in the blockchain and cryptocurrency space.

Tim Draper met with a delegation from Bermuda at the technology and innovation-focused Montgomery Summit in California this week, and showed enthusiasm for Bermuda’s plans in the blockchain technology space. Mr Draper comes from a family line of venture capitalists. His father was an early investor in Skype.

In addition, two start up enterprises at the summit in Santa Monica have indicated a commitment to coming to Bermuda.

Wayne Caines, the Bermuda Government’s Minister of National Security, spoke about the breakthroughs on the second day of the summit. He is part of the island’s team that mixed with hundreds of venture capitalists and representatives of tech-based start-ups.

Blockchain, cryptocurrencies, and artificial intelligence were among topics of discussion at the summit and in meetings held in conjunction with the event.

The Bermuda delegation was organised by the Bermuda Business Development Agency, and took part in panel discussions, presentations and on-on-one meetings during the two-day event.

Yesterday there was a Bermuda-sponsored breakfast meeting, followed by a mid-morning panel discussion, titled Bermuda- The New Value Equation.

Speaking to The Royal Gazette, Mr Caines said: “We had a good discussion with Tim Draper and he was enthusiastic about Bermuda’s plans in this sector. We’ve invited him to join the global advisory board of our Bermuda Digital Asset Exchange as we work to develop blockchain-based cryptocurrency initiatives for the island.

“It was one of several informative and productive discussions we held over both days of the conference. We also had numerous opportunities to promote Bermuda as a top-tier jurisdiction — and the sensible choice for both start-ups and investors to consider for their global projects.”

Mr Caines said he had used an analogy of Bermuda’s innovation from the days when Bermuda’s sloops pioneered new sailing techniques, to the evolution of insurance and reinsurance on the island and onwards into the world of blockchain technologies.

Among those who have met with the Bermuda team was Brian C. Mulligan, former co-chairman of Universal Pictures who has also previously worked as an executive with Deutsche Bank Securities.

Among the Bermuda group is Chris Garrod, partner, Conyers, who has helped some of the first digital-token issuers launch a corporate presence in Bermuda. He also serves on the Government’s Blockchain Legal and Regulatory Working Group, and noted the high quality of the attendees at the event and the interest in Bermuda’s collaborative approach towards attracting new business.

That was also commented on by John Narraway, who heads Bermuda Government’s Blockchain Business Development Working Group. He said: “There is the start-up community here; emerging technology companies that we are interested in. They are looking to raise additional capital. There are 100 start-ups at difference stages of growth who are looking at how they can operate globally.

“We are having conversations. We talk about managing customers around the world and data privacy. It’s about listening, it’s about what they are seeing and what they are saying.”

Aron Dutta, founder and chief executive officer of Vaphr, a Bermudian-based blockchain accelerator that last year selected Bermuda as its global platform hub, has given Bermuda a further boost with his presence at the summit.

He said: “Blockchain gives us a tool to reconstruct the economy. The next generation are not going to care about banks.”

He said he had come to Bermuda with his business venture because of the island’s integrity, and said his participation alongside Bermuda at events connected to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland in January, and at the Montgomery Summit “shows that there are enterprises who are here [in Bermuda] that are committed”.

Also flying the flag for the island was Bermudian Gina Pereira, of Dana Philanthropy. She is based in Los Angeles and works with private clients to advise on philanthropy. She is also a member of STEP Bermuda and works with the BDA on policies that might affect the philanthropy sector.

Ms Pereira said she was attending the summit to support the BDA and Bermuda, and also to learn about opportunities for investing in technologies to “help humanity’s challenges” and the potential of artificial intelligence to be used in the field of conservation.

Meanwhile, Mr Caines said the summit had exceeded expectations and been a phenomenal experience for Bermuda.

Big name: Conyers partner Chris Garrod, left, with venture capitalist Tim Draper, who has been invited to join the global advisory board of the Bermuda Digital Asset Exchange (Photograph supplied)