Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

The International Blockchain Olympiad (IBCOL) is an annual global competition inviting current and recent students to propose solutions for real-world challenges with blockchain technology.

Blockchain is a type of distributed ledger technology — distributed meaning not kept by one bookkeeper; a ledger is a book of records — where tamperproof records are shared among a group, so that they can form a consensus about a single truth. This allows parties that don’t fully trust each other to work together without the need of trusting each other nor does it need to place their trust collectively upon a central authority. Hence, blockchain solutions are sometimes synonymous with the term “decentralised applications” even though decentralisation is not the only nor the key benefit.

An application is a specific implementation of a design, where craftsmanship quality is the emphasis.
A system is a broader implementation of a design where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, where overall interplay of technical and complementary components is the key.
A solution first and foremost addresses a challenge or solves a problem. A complete solution fulfils its purpose within the scope of a defined problem or challenge without creating new problems or challenges.
With those three definitions, the blockchain incarnations are essentially as follows:
A blockchain application is “blockchain code”, such as smart contracts, chaincode, cordapp, etc.
A blockchain system is not only has “blockchain code” but also backend code, frontend code, user interfaces, access control, processes, etc.
A blockchain solution is not only a system but also the governance and frameworks where various levels of privacy, security, and trust are supported.

The mission of the International Blockchain Olympiad is to support sustainability and maturity in blockchain by working with academic, industry, and government partners. Working with secondary and tertiary students, the International Blockchain Olympiad provides education and training on designing complete blockchain solutions.

Participants of the International Blockchain Olympiad (IBCOL) are encouraged to be responsible contributors of (y)our digital future:

Promoting Awareness on Blockchain Technology & Applications: students from around the world will benefit from the experience of participating in the IBCOL program of activities, which includes seminar series, specialised training and workshops, mentoring, and networking events besides the actual competitions. This will cultivate a genuine interest in the area of innovation, originality, creativity and cutting-edge technology. It will also instil the right ethical values in the younger generation to pave the way for their further exploration of blockchain in the future.

Enhancing Employability by Equipping Participants with helpful Skills: the prospective and actual participants will benefit tremendously from the IBCOL programme, as they learn practical skills and knowledge outside their disciplines and push the boundaries of their comfort zones. Students get a taste of the real world, and learn how to identify and overcome challenges in actually making something happen.

Yes! Blockchain is not only for “technology” students. In fact, if you’re from a tech background, we advise you to think beyond technology, and avoid the trap of creating a solution looking for a problem!

Yes! Blockchain is not only for tech or business students. Historically, students from a diverse range of majors or interests have competed on equal footing, as the solution design requires deep thinking into problem solving for specific domains and verticals.

Yes! There is no age limit. In fact, younger students have less “education” and bias to the current world of centralised infrastructure, which may be an advantage.

Yes, as long as you fulfil the eligibility for individual participants.

The blockchain olympiad committee for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) and official representative of the International Blockchain Olympiad (IBCOL) in HKSAR is the Hong Kong Blockchain Olympiad (HKBCOL). The Hong Kong Blockchain Society (HKBCS) is the official representative of the IBCOL in China, which includes the HKBCOL. The secondary division is also co-organised with the Hong Kong Academy for Gifted Education (HKAGE).

The rules of competition for the HKBCOL are exactly the same as the rules at the international level, and the HKBCOL accepts all changes to rules on the international level without reservations, although complications will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Please refer to the IBCOL FAQ for in-depth details.

Request for Proposals

As always, the theme of the International Blockchain Olympiad is to invite students to propose their (realistic) vision of a blockchain future. This year, the IBCOL 2023 lets teams enter their proposals into one of the seventeen categories that correspond with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) of the United Nations (UN):

  1. No Poverty
  2. Zero Hunger
  3. Good Health and Well-being
  4. Quality Education
  5. Gender Equality
  6. Clean Water and Sanitation
  7. Affordable and Clean Energy
  8. Decent Work and Economic Growth
  9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
  10. Reduced Inequality
  11. Sustainable Cities and Communities
  12. Responsible Consumption and Production
  13. Climate Action
  14. Life Below Water
  15. Life on Land
  16. Peace and Justice Strong Institutions
  17. Partnerships to achieve the Goal
A proposal may be categorised into up to three of these categories (order matters). The Competitions Committee reserves the right to recategorise any proposal.

Blockchain is thought to be a panacea for a myriad of problems or challenges facing our world today — socially, economically, etc. In some cases, a blockchain solutions exists looking for problems. Sometimes, a blockchain solution is overkill for a type of challenge.

Blockchain solutions are not simply slapping a smart contract or an application on a blockchain. Many so-called solutions are dead-on-arrival, due to the lack of consideration for security, trust, and privacy. Technology alone cannot be the solution. Completeness means accommodating various levels of security, trust, and privacy.

A team of students (up to six per team) describes the problem or challenge being addressed, an overview of the solution, details of the solution architecture, and demonstrate how the solution addresses the problem. Elements of a business plan like market analysis, competitive analysis, revenue model, distribution strategy, etc are optional — i.e. do it if it helps explain your solution design. Likewise, elements of a project plan like development plan, testing plan, financial plan, etc are optional.

Your proposal to a blockchain solution may be expressed with any myriad of tools, but at minimum, the follow three materials are required: questionnaire in the format of IEEE style (refer to sample submission here), 2-3 minute video presentation, and poster board. A prototype would be helpful: a low-fidelity (diagrams or mockups), high-fidelity (simulated application), or a functional prototype (with code). Note that secondary student teams submit those three materials in three phases (July 21st, August 18th, September 6th); tertiary student teams submit all three items in one deadline (September 2nd).

The most important aspect of a blockchain solution is the design. A bad implementation with a good design succeeds eventually; a good implementation with a bad design fails immediately. Thus, it is not required to implement a prototype to demonstrate technical skills — so no coding expected, let alone smart contracts or chain code — although if a team decides that it is useful for explanatory purposes, go for it!

A solution — blockchain or not — needs to be only as complex as it has to be. Things that are complex are not useful; things that are useful are simple. Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.

Teams may pursue multiple project proposals, and may enter multiple proposals for the exhibition event, but may only compete with one proposal.

Teams may be composed of 1 to 6 eligible individuals. Each team has one team lead. Individuals may not be on more than one team.

Yes. And the representative school shall be the one of the team leader’s. If there is at least one tertiary-level individual in a mixed secondary- and tertiary-level team, then, that team is considered a tertiary-level team.

Current and recent students (without age limit) may register as a competitor. The Competitions Committee may request proof-of-enrollment or proof-of-graduation. Students are defined based on UN standard:

  • Current Secondary-Level Students: Any current student studying at a secondary academic institution (ISCED 2011 level 2-4).
  • Current Tertiary-Level Students: Any current student studying at a tertiary academic institution (ISCED 2011 level 5-8).
  • Recent College or University Students: Any recent student of a tertiary academic institution within and including up to three (3) years since graduation or hiatus. The Competitions Committee may request an endorsement from academic or administrative staff from their institutions.


The Hong Kong Blockchain Olympiad nominates teams to represent Hong Kong based on their performance at the qualifying rounds: for secondary student teams, this is on September 9th; for tertiary students, this is on September 16th. HKBCOL shall announce the teams to represent Hong Kong on 18 September 2023.

8 teams will be shortlisted to represent Hong Kong and be guaranteed a place in the finals in Amsterdam.

Teams from countries or territories without a national committee or national nominators that have eligible individuals may directly submit their proposal to the Ersatz Blockchain Olympiad Committee. This does not apply for student teams that wish to compete as representatives of Hong Kong SAR.

A list of national committees or national nominators are updated on the IBCOL website. If they exist, you may reach them at their official emails which is the two-letter ISO abbreviation of your country or territory. For example, [email protected] (not [email protected]) is the British Blockchain Olympiad, representing the United Kingdom (of Great Britain and Northern Ireland).

Monday 18 September 2023 at 23:59 GMT+2

Extensions must be requested at least 7 days before a deadline and will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Some valid reasons include but not limited to: war, civil unrest, natural disasters, and other force majeures.

The Ersatz Blockchain Olympiad Committee takes the role of a national committee to evaluate nominees from countries or territories without an national committee and to evaluate some nominees that were passed by national nominators under special circumstances. The evaluation is conducted with the standard evaluation criteria by a jury panel selected from a pool of jurors from around the world. If the nominee passes the evaluation, they are allowed to proceed.

A nominee becomes a finalist when IBCOL 2023 Competitions Committee officially recognises that team and is entered into the registry for IBCOL’23.

Tuesday 31 October 2023 at 23:59 GMT+2 via website


First, individuals register with HKBCOL (secondary school teams via HKAGE; tertiary school teams directly with HKBCOL), and will be granted an IBCOL Passport. Next, and finally, teams are registered at the HKBCOL 2022 Teams and Projects Registries.

The IBCOL Passport is a user-centric verifiable digital credentials system that aids HKBCOL 2023 to ensure compliance to rules and regulations of the competition. Get your passport at passport.ibcol.org and register before the deadline.

Not applicable. Please refer to the submission deadline.


  • For Secondary Track:
    First Submission: July 21st of 2023 at 23:59 HKT
    Second Submission: August 18th of 2023 at 23:59 HKT
    Third Submission: September 6th of 2023 at 23:59 HKT

  • For Teritary Track:
    First Submission: September 2nd of 2023 at 23:59 HKT


Secretariat for Secondary Tier: [email protected]
Secretariat for Tertiary Tier: [email protected]
Media Enquiries: [email protected]
Partner Enquiries: [email protected]