Blockchain has become a key technology for economic development. It goes beyond cryptocurrencies (such as bitcoins) and tokens. It has the potential to transform the functioning of a wide range of industries. There already good examples of development agencies fostering the adoption of blockchain technology in their territories that could inspire you.
Blockchain is a shared trusted record of operations between parties in a network, not controlled by a single central authority. It is distributed ledger that works like a record book stored in all the nodes of a network. The blockchain registers and stores all the operations done by the users in chronological order. It is almost impossible to modify the records because instead of one single authority controlling this ledger (like a bank), an identical copy of the ledger is held by all users on the network, called nodes. The bigger the network, the harder is to attack it because it has more nodes to modify.
The most recognised applications of this technology are Bitcoin, peer-to-peer electronic cash, tokens and other cryptocurrencies. But the technology has a number of applications that goes far beyond the monetary innovations with application to many industries:
‘Blockchain has the potential to transform the functioning of a wide range of industries’. OECD Blockchain Primer (2018)
Development agencies has started to promote the adoption of blockchain technologies considering its excellent possibilities. A good example is the “Blockstart: Blockchain-based applications for SME competitiveness” BSTART project of the Interreg North-West Europe programme and is financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). Blockstart has started this year 2019 and it will focus on companies that are active in the field of health, logistics and agri-food, who can use blockchain to increase safety and efficiency in their work. The Development Agency Oost NL is one of the partners of the project and focuses in particular on the opportunities for the agri-food sector.
The project is going to support innovations related to food safety in East Netherlands. Blockchain technology is used for safe, automated and efficient data transactions that can be used, for example, to trace the origin of food products. A current theme in the food industry. Consumers and producers want to be able to rely on the origin of products. Producing safe food is an important social challenge.
Most of the European development agencies are organising conference to make the entrepreneurs aware of the possibilities of the technology. A good example is the activity carried out by ARR SA, the development agency of Bielsko-Biala. This agency organised last year a conference with the title Blockchain: hype or revolution? (Blockchain: hype czy rewolucja?).
Another initiative that will inspire you is Erfahrungsaustausch (ERFA) Blockchain implemented by Business Upper Austria. This development agency has established a programme to share best practices experiences among entrepreneurs. It provides immediate results because it implies the joint research of blockchain applications in industry. The initiative includes foresight workshops, expert interviews, discussions with keynote speakers and comprehensive research on the analysis of the current state of knowledge in the field of blockchain. The result would be detailed possibilities for each company, various scenarios and stimulating ideas in the field of research, which can be projected onto the individual companies.
Startups is as well an interesting option to support blockchain technologies in your territory. For example, Rubik Hub of the agency ADR Nord-Est has organised recently the event Startup Alley that involved blockchain applications. They had the possibility to seek cooperation, investors and pitch.
Another possibility of fostering these innovations is to help companies to consolidate by getting customers in international markets. This is the case of Enterprise Greece that it is supporting international trade and cooperation. The Greek company norbloc (establish in 2016) is today the world leader in blockchain applications for know yor customers (KYC) applications. They are very useful for banks to recognise and validate the customers making easier for the clients to interact with the bank in on-line applications.
To support the adoption of blockchain technologies, the European commission has launched in 2018 the EU Blockchain Observatry and Forum. It is an important source of information that could inspire your development agency to establish useful blockchain support mechanisms. Their mission is to promote blockchain in Europe by mapping existing blockchain initiatives, analysing and reporting on important blockchain themes, promoting blockchain education and knowledge sharing and holding events to promote debate and discussion.
Participate in international events is important to meet with other colleagues to share experiences. Malaga will host from 11 to 13 November 2019 the World Blockchain Congress, a meeting of great international dimension that will bring experts from the five continents to establish direct connections around Blockchain technology. The congress is organised by the European Commission, the EU Blockchain Observatory and Forum, the International Association of Trusted Blockchain Applications and the Spanish network of Blockchain Alastria.