European Union recently rewarded six blockchain / distributed ledger technology (DLT) projects, showing its interest in teams that aim to solve sustainability challenges.
The European Innovation Council (EIC), has awarded EUR 5 million (USD 5.7 million) to six winners of its call to propose ideas for “scalable, deployable and high-impact blockchain solutions for societal challenges.” Though there were originally supposed to be five winners, two participants were tied, thus splitting the reward money.
EIC was introduced by the union’s executive branch, the European Commission, to support the commercialization of “high-risk, high-impact” technologies in the European Union.
Closing the call in September 2019, the organization received 176 applications from 43 countries. 10% of the proposals came from individuals, 10% from public institutions, and nearly 80% from startups and small and mid-size enterprises.
Per EIC’s announcement, these winners of the EIC Prize on Blockchains for Social Good are the solutions that “propose blockchain applications for fair trade and circular economy, increasing transparency in production processes and quality information, improving accountability and contributing to financial inclusion and renewable energy.”
The winners in their respective areas are as follows:
WordProof, by Dutch SME WordProof B.V., in Quality Content.
The WordProof Timestamp Ecosystem is a technology able to prove authenticity and to make information verifiable, which for its goal has the establishment of trust on the Internet. Content owners can use the timestamps to prove that they did not tamper with their content, enabling humans and machines to verify the history of changes.
PPP, by UK social enterprise Project Provenance Ltd, in Traceability & Fair Trade.
Proof Points enable businesses to prove the social impact across the supply chains behind their business and products. This further enables a consistent presentation of information with robust, multi-layered, easily validated, and easily shared evidence.
GMeRitS, by Finnish university Aalto, in Financial Inclusion.
GMeRitS is conducting wide-scale experiments with alternative economic structures, stating that the future of society must rely on solid experiments and data. Their goal is to try and evaluate various anti-rival compensation and governance structures, contributing to financial inclusion.
The UnBlocked Cash Project OXBBU, by Irish Oxfam and French startup Sempo, in Aid & Philanthropy.
OXFAM and Sempo presented a decentralized model to address the global challenge of delivering international aid to disaster-affected people. The application places these communities at the center of decision-making when it comes to their cash-based entitlements while helping to link institutions and individuals directly to those they want to support, without compromising transparency and accountability.
CKH2020, by French cooperative Kleros, in Decentralized Circular Economy.
Kleros is a platform for resolving consumer disputes in areas such as e-commerce, collaborative economy, and others. Disputes are resolved by a panel of randomly selected jurors, while blockchain guarantees that no party can tamper with the evidence nor manipulate jury selection, with the rulings being automatically enforced by smart contracts.
PROSUME, by Italian Prosume srl, in Energy.
PROSUME is a platform that provides a decentralized and autonomous digital marketplace for peer-to-peer energy trading. It allows the integration of “prosumers” – consumers who are also producers of renewable energy- into the monopolized and fossils-based energy sector.
Maria Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation Research, Culture, Education and Youth, stated that these proposed solutions demonstrate that blockchain can support fair trade, increase transparency in production processes and e-commerce, as well as assist financial inclusion, therefore forming positive social change.
Thierry Breton, Commissioner for the Internal Market, added that “Europe has to fully recognize and support European technological innovations to address both industrial and sustainability challenges.”
The “revolutionary potential of blockchains,” said EIC, has been tested in the financial domain, but its possible applications in social domains haven’t been explored as much, nor its ability to address sustainability challenges.
EIC concluded that:
“The results of this Prize are very important for the development of the Next Generation Internet (NGI) initiative, which will continue to explore the potential of Blockchain in new application areas, in particular to address local and global sustainability challenges in relation to the SDGs [Sustainable Development Goals].”
The NGI initiative was launched by the European Commission in 2016. As they said, it has for a goal to shape the future internet as an interoperable platform ecosystem that encompasses six core values: openness, inclusivity, transparency, privacy, cooperation, and protection of data.
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