In the spring of last year, a consulting group emailed Airbus out of the blue to see if the aircraft maker wanted help with blockchain technology. The consultants talked up their experience doing blockchain projects and explained how Airbus could use the technology. Airbus ended up working with the consultants to develop a way to track jet plane parts using blockchain, among other things.
It did take a little convincing, however. The consultants weren’t from a blue-chip firm like McKinsey or Accenture. Instead, they were a bunch of college students from UC Berkeley who have banded together in a group called Blockchain at Berkeley. Airbus was its first big consulting contract. Since then, the Berkeley group says it has worked with companies like Qualcomm and Mercedes Benz, fitting in work between classes and sleep. It charges $40,000 to $50,000 for projects that typically last 10 to 12 weeks.