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McNair Institute announces Blockchain Challenge

UofSC, Palmetto Chain, Inc. and South Carolina Blockchain co-sponsoring inaugural SC Blockchain Entrepreneurship Challenge, with $6K in cash prizes available. 

South Carolina Blockchain, PalmettoChain Inc., and the McNair Institute for Entrepreneurism and Free Enterprise at the University of South Carolina are co-sponsoring the inaugural South Carolina Blockchain Entrepreneurship Challenge, which opens July 15, 2020 on UofSC’s StartupWind Virtual Entrepreneurial Support Platform.  

“Our goal is to inspire entrepreneurs and innovators to apply blockchain technology to industries like supply chain, agriculture, real estate, transportation, law, and many more,” said Dr. Dirk Brown, faculty director of the McNair Institute for Entrepreneurism and Free Enterprise.  

“We want to encourage all South Carolinians and UofSC students to develop and propose next-generation solutions to present-day problems,” said Dennis Fassuliotis, executive director, PalmettoChain, Inc.  

Up to $6,000 in prize money, including a special prize bracket for UofSC student-driven entries with support from The Robert and Janice McNair Foundation, will be awarded. Ideas will be developed online in StartupWind, using an idea concept card, a business model canvas, a proof-of-concept submission, and a budget.  

Idea canvases will be judged by seasoned entrepreneurs and investors based on (1) how compelling the idea is; (2) presentation of blockchain use-cases with South Carolinians in mind; and (3) how realistic the solution is to implement.

 The competition will start with a formal announcement at the Resilience SC 2020 Virtual Blockchain Conference hosted by South Carolina Blockchain, Inc. on July 15, 2020. Details of the conference can be found at​.  

 A separate student bracket of the competition is open to UofSC students, including all campuses and the Palmetto College. Individuals and teams of any size may submit idea canvases and proofs-of-concept utilizing a blockchain platform of their choice. A dedicated portion of the award money is reserved for UofSC students and student teams will also be eligible for the public bracket prizes. Please read the eligibility, entry, judging and additional terms before submitting your idea canvas, proof-of-concept and additional required documents. 

 Entries are due Wednesday, August 12, 2020, at 11 p.m. EST​   

 Winners will be announced August 19, 2020  

Get started on your application >>> 

 For more information, contact Katherine Swartz Hilton at​ or​    

803.777.1717 or Mark Driver at​ or 478.607.9173​ 

South Carolina Blockchain is a for-benefit corporation (B-Corp) that originated out of the efforts of PalmettoChain Inc., which had been set to sponsor the 1st annual South Carolina Blockchain Conference in March 2020. Due to COVID-19, the conference was postponed; however, the content scheduled for the conference lays the foundation of the virtual seminar and educational platform now hosted at

PalmettoChain focuses on advocacy and legislative initiatives to promote a conducive regulatory framework for blockchain-enabled technologies, primarily cryptocurrencies and coin offerings, which represent a critically important foundation and functionality underpinning future blockchain business solutions.

PalmettoChain, Inc., founded in 2018, is a non-profit professional association that began as a grassroots group of blockchain enthusiasts that believe every individual, business, and branch of government in the great state of South Carolina can benefit from blockchain technology. We believe this technology combined with other emerging technologies will create efficiencies heretofore unimaginable. PalmettoChain expects the development of the State’s own blockchain utility to serve the governments and businesses of South Carolina that serve her citizens.

 Media Contact: Dennis Fassuliotis, Executive Director, PalmettoChain, Inc.

The McNair Institute for Entrepreneurism and Free Enterprise at the University of South Carolina​ promotes scholarly activity, educates students about the role of free enterprise and​ entrepreneurship in enhancing economic growth, and encourages students to contribute and participate through entrepreneurship in creating a better America.

 The Institute is funded through the generosity of the Robert and Janice McNair Foundation, which also funds centers at multiple other universities across the nation supporting entrepreneurship and free enterprise education. Under the guiding vision of Robert and Janice McNair, the foundation is committed to developing a new generation of entrepreneurial leaders who have both the technical skills and the philosophical understanding of how the free enterprise system forms the basis of economic opportunity and prosperity for individuals in our country.

Public Bracket

  • Individuals or teams must have one resident of South Carolina or must have at least one eligible UofSC student (who is not necessarily a South Carolina resident).
  • Teams must include a basic demonstration proof of concept utilizing either:  
    • blockchain development tools introduced by competition organizers; or
    •  any other recognized blockchain platform of the team’s choice

UofSC Student Bracket

  • Any teams comprised exclusively of enrolled undergraduate and graduate University of South Carolina students in good academic and judicial standing on all UofSC campuses are eligible.
  • UofSC teams are also eligible for awards in the public bracket.

The competition is open to individuals and teams of any size.

  • The deadline for entry is Wednesday, August 12, 2020, at 11 pm EST.
  • Entries will be made through the StartupWind platform in a private and secure cohort.
  • To enter, visit our webpage and create an account.​         
  • Entry includes five required parts:
    1. Team member(s’) contact information (and academic information if competing in student bracket). A form will be provided.
    2. Idea concept card
    3. Business model canvas
    4. Proof-of-concept demonstration, and
    5. Budget. A template will be provided for the budget.
  • Multiple entries per individual or team are allowed.
  • There is no entry fee.
  • Terms are posted in the competition.
  • Entries will be judged by a panel of experts including seasoned entrepreneurs, blockchain enthusiasts, investors, and staff from South Carolina Blockchain and the McNair Institute at UofSC.
  • Idea canvases and demos will be judged based on:
    1. How compelling the idea is;
    2. The return on investment or impact per dollar;
    3. How realistic the solution is to implement and scale, and
    4. The level of detail and sophistication of the demonstration proof-of-concept.
  • Winners will be announced on August 19, 2020.
  • Submissions will only be visible to judges, South Carolina Blockchain and McNair Institute staff, and StartupWind staff during the entry and selection phases of the competition.
  • Winners agree to allow South Carolina Blockchain, Inc., PalmettoChain, Inc. and the McNair Institute for Entrepreneurism and Free Enterprise and the University of South Carolina to publicize winners’ idea summary statements,​ photographs, and project results beginning with the announcement of winners.
  • All winners must abide by all federal, state, local, and University of South Carolina mandates. 
  • Prize money up to $6,000 will be awarded. The amount of each prize to be determined by South Carolina Blockchain, Palmetto Chain, Inc., and McNair Institute for Entrepreneurism and Free Enterprise at the University of South Carolina. Awards will be based on several factors including an estimate of total funds needed to complete the project, feasibility, scalability, return on investment, type of mitigation to be made, and the amount allocated toward personal expenditures. The size of the team is not a factor in determining the amount of prize money awarded.
  • Payment of prize money will be issued in the form of a check or direct deposit after a W-9 is received. Payment will be made as quickly as possible, but due to limitations placed on staff during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is not possible to predict when payment will be issued.
  • Prizes of $600.00 or more are taxable, and it is the winner’s responsibility to pay taxes on winnings received. An IRS Form 1099 will be sent to each winner as applicable.
  • If a winning team has formed a legally recognized business, payment of prize money will be made to the business. The IRS Form 1099 will be sent to the business for payment of taxes as applicable. If the winning team has not formed a business, the team leader designated in the competition entry information will be sent the prize money and IRS Form 1099 as applicable.
  • Student bracket winners will be required to provide an interim or final report to the McNair Institute by February 15, 2021, including action taken, impact made, use of funds, engagement with advisors, testimonials from winners, and those impacted by the project, and photographs of the project. A report template will be provided.
  1. By participating in this Blockchain Entrepreneurship Challenge co-hosted by South Carolina Blockchain, Inc. (“SCB”), each Participant grants SCB and its licensees, successors and assigns a non-exclusive, perpetual, non-cancelable, royalty free, fully paid up, worldwide right and license to edit, modify, adapt, translate, exhibit, publish, transmit, participate in the transfer of, reproduce, copy, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, display and otherwise use all and/or any part of such Participant’s names, likenesses, photographs, voices and images of all persons referenced and/or appearing in materials generated at the event, without limitation, anywhere in the world in any form (tangible or intangible, permanent or ephemeral, including, without limitation, audio, video, print, electronic, written, and photographic) and via any transmission medium (including, without limitation, television, radio, Internet, and print) now existing or that may exist in the future for advertising, trade, promotion, publicity and other related purposes without compensation and without notice to or consideration, review or approval from Participant.
  2. Each Participant further agrees to
    1. Be questioned or interviewed (whether in person or by other means such as email or phone), filmed and/or photographed and available for interviewing, filming, photography and for other public relations, marketing and promotional activities associated with the Blockchain Entrepreneurship Challenge, as reasonably requested and directed by SCB,
    2. Allow SCB to make contact with the Participant (whether in person, by phone, email or otherwise) to request further information from the Participants concerning their participation or for any other purpose related to the Blockchain Entrepreneurship Challenge. Each Participant represents and warrants that neither its participation, nor SCB’s exercise of any of the rights granted to it under these Additional Terms will:
      1. Infringe or violate any rights of any third party or entity, including, without limitation, those relating to patents, copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets, moral rights, mask works, defamation, privacy, publicity, false light, misappropriation, confidentiality, and/or any contractual or other rights recognizable under any applicable law, rule, regulation, ordinance, judgment or decree (collectively, “Law”), or
      2. Otherwise violate any applicable Law.


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