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Arry Yu, blockchain chair at WTIA, and Lawrence Lerner, CEO at blockchain investor Pithia, are founding members of the Cascadia Blockchain Council. (GeekWire Photo / James Thorne)

A group of blockchain entrepreneurs, institutions and tech giants are banding together to make the Pacific Northwest a hub for the burgeoning technology. The Cascadia Blockchain Council is an effort to give blockchain organizations a unified voice around public policy and marketing, as well as to create community and share resources.

The 20 founding companies include enterprise players such as Microsoft and T-Mobile, blockchain startups Strix Leviathan, Bittrex and CryptoSlate, as well as organizations like the Washington State Department of Commerce, the University of Washington and the Washington Technology Industry Association (WTIA). The council first formed three months ago and launched its website today.

“With blockchain, we have the ability to bring people together. Let’s do it with one voice,” said Arry Yu, blockchain council chair at WTIA, speaking at a conference hosted by TF Blockchain in Seattle on Thursday.

Venture capital investments in blockchain companies are healthy despite the ongoing Bitcoin winter. VC firms poured more than $100 million into blockchain firms in the first two months of 2019, according to Pitchbook.

Pamela Dingle, director of identity standards at Microsoft, and Chris Spantone, senior architect of blockchain at T-Mobile, represent the area’s tech heavy-hitters. Seattle-based Bittrex, the 45th-largest digital coin exchange by volume according to CoinMarketCap, is also part of the council.

The council has also drawn local entrepreneurs like Jesse Proudman, founder of cryptocurrency trading Strix Leviathan. Proudman previously founded Blue Box, an on demand private cloud service that sold to IBM in 2016.

Strix Leviathan raised $1.6 million last year from investors ranging from top VC firms to NFL players. The startup gives major investment banks automated and algorithm-powered tools to trade cryptocurrency across exchanges.

“There is so much pent up demand for blockchain. People don’t realize how much is going on in Washington,” Lawrence Lerner, CEO at blockchain investment firm Pithia and a member of the council, said at the conference.

While many of the founding members are based in the Seattle area, the council welcomes members from Oregon to Vancouver, Canada.

Stay tuned for more coverage from the TF Blockchain conference today.

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