At the EIT Digital Academy Summer School, I learned the skills to take my business forward

Dr Roland Clarke (Director of Clarke Energy Associates in Barbados)

Dr Roland Clarke (Director of Clarke Energy Associates in Barbados)

Imagine a 58-year-old professional, with his own consultancy firm in energy policy advising to international agencies and ministries, in a classroom full of young technical master school students. How would you feel? To Dr Roland Clarke, director of Clarke Energy Associates in Barbados, it feels good. "I learn a lot from these people. The students are a bonus of this Summer School".

When Clarke was looking for a summer school, a course, or anything to learn more about blockchain, the EIT Digital Academy Summer School on Digital Finance in Budapest popped up in Clarke's Google results. He applied and ended up here in a class full of EIT Digital Master School students and some other professional learners. 

Did you like it being amongst all the students?

"Very much. They have a technology background that I do not have. I can learn from them quite a bit. The lessons given by the instructors are very high level so when we work in groups, the students elaborate more about it. The students are a bonus of the Summer School".

Why did you choose this Summer School, that focuses on blockchain for economic security?

"It is just what I needed. As a consultant in renewable energy and energy policy for ministries and international agencies, I need to learn more about blockchain and how to use it for energy trading. I wanted to learn how to manage technological people. They have technical knowledge that I cannot always follow. So, I need to learn enough to be able to write a request for proposal or a work order. Now, here I have acquired a better understanding of how technical people talk, and how I can interact with them. I've learned to speak their language. Also, I wanted to learn how to get started with bitcoin. How do I get a wallet?"

How is block chain important for energy trading?

"As an energy consultant in the era of policy, I need to learn about "the next big things". To me, peer-to-peer trading of energy by individuals is one of the "next big things". For example, if you place a solar panel on your rooftop, and you produce more energy than you need, can you sell the surplus to your neighbour, and can you buy from your neighbour if you fall short on energy? You will want to have a trusted platform to deal with that. For example, a person such as my mother would not want anything to do with the administration of the selling and buying process, so let an appropriate technology handle that for her. That platform is blockchain, which is about trust, security of data, automation and speed."

"Another next big thing is environmental emission trading. That is peer-to-peer for companies and countries. For example, UNFCCC's, Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). entities in industrial countries who pollute may sell their right to do so to entities in developing countries. This activates these developing countries to take positive action to reduce emissions. However, undertaking a CDM process may cost as much as USD 100,000. Nobody in developing countries can afford that. There should be a mechanism to bring the cost of the CDM down. That mechanism may be blockchain technology which holds the promise to be secure, trustworthy, reliable and low cost."

How did you experience this summer school?

"I might even start my own business. Yes, I am inspired. In the Summer School, there have also been lessons in Innovation & Entrepreneurship. These courses have opened my eyes and are another bonus to me. Just these practical details on how to create a start-up, that is not technical at all. To me, it is opening my eyes concerning the psychology of innovation and entrepreneurship. I need that mindset. I have made mistakes in my business. This Summer School helps me understand how I made those mistakes and how I may shift to a better entrepreneurial mindset."

And, have you learned all you wanted?

"Well, not yet all. After the Summer School I will stay another two weeks in Budapest to do self-study of the things I've learned. Today, was more oriented towards the business use cases. These cases made a lot of sense to me. Andrew Voronkov, serial entrepreneur and co-founder of SONM-project, taught me about rapid prototyping. That means that you develop your product as quickly as possible. Even when the product might not be perfect you put it on the market to test it for some months. If you detect market feedback you can go back redeveloping and find a partner to develop even further. That appeals to me. Today I got to understand the big picture of how everything fits together. Andrew made clear which skills are necessary: marketing and smart contract development. I can use these lessons in my business and in my advisory services."

How would you do your business differently than say one month ago?

"I would focus more on customer needs, what is important to them and what difference can I make to them. While before, I would also focus on that in a much later stage, I am being more proactive now. Also, I will work more with rapid prototyping. In the past, as an advisor, I have been advocating for sustainable energy. Now I want to make a transition from advocating to implementing these systems in my country and elsewhere. Sustainable energies are gaining momentum. In this summer school, I required a new set of skills that enable me to move from advocacy to implementation. That will help me create the future that I want."

Why would you recommend the EIT Digital Academy Summer School to other professionals?

"Well, besides visiting the beautiful city of Budapest, you will learn the skills to evolve your business using digital transformation in addition to all I have described above."

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