Deloitte is set to rapidly scale its global plans for blockchain services by setting up a new development hub in Ireland.

Announced today, Deloitte has created a financial services blockchain lab in Dublin, and will seek to grow that team to 50 people over the next 18 months. Called the EMEA Financial Services Blockchain Lab, the new development space is part of Deloitte’s FinTech initiative called the ‘The Grid’, which constitutes a network of labs around the world.

The Dublin team, according to the company, will be tasked with developing blockchain proofs-of-concept into “functioning” prototypes. The so-called “ready to integrate” solutions will be built with specific clients in mind.

In interview, David Dalton, who co-leads the lab, described the initiative as the first of several  experimental spaces of this size focused on blockchain applications.

He told CoinDesk:

“I think we’re unique at this point but I’d expect that to grow globally. In fact that’s our plan.”

Dalton, who is also the head of financial services for Deloitte Ireland, said that there will certainly be challenges to account for when building a team of this size.

He went on to indicate that Deloitte would source the staff both internally and through external hires, with at least a third being drawn from outside the company.

Irish push

In the near-term, the professional services company is looking to kickstart the process by temporarily moving some of its in-house blockchain talent to Dublin. From there, other Deloitte staffers will go through a “learning and development” program, said Dalton.

Members of the Dublin lab will work alongside specialist teams in other member firms across the region, such as Deloitte’s London-based blockchain team.

The move to open up more development space comes weeks after Deloitte unveiled partnerships with a group of startups focused on blockchain applications, including BlockCypher, Bloq, ConsenSys Enterprise, Loyyal and Stellar.

Deloitte announced the partnerships alongside a suite of 20 blockchain prototypes at CoinDesk’s Consensus 2016 conference in New York earlier this month.

Ireland itself is no stranger to work on blockchain applications. Earlier this year, the Bank of Ireland began developing its own blockchain trial for trade reporting. At the time, the bank told CoinDesk that a positive regulatory environment and a desire on the part of regional banks to innovate drove those efforts.

According to Dalton, the existence of “talent on the ground” in Ireland and the nation’s “interesting mix of FinTech companies” was a driving factor in the establishment of the laboratory.

Blockchain Lab image via Deloitte

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