DLT4EU: Using blockchain technology for social and public good
Piloting a European ecosystem of distributed ledger technologies for social and public good.
A powerful new technology
DLTs, the parent technology to blockchains and cryptocurrency, are a ground-breaking innovation that enables decentralized methods for sharing, storing and securing transactions; validating, managing, and tracking access to data; and widening participation within complex, multi-actor decision-making processes -all without intermediaries. This powerful digital technology has the potential for deep social, technological, economic, environmental, legal, and policy impacts over the next 10-15 years: from innovations within financial inclusion and peer-to-peer exchanges of assets and values, to the possibility of more inclusive, convivial, ethical, transparent, and accountable digital societies.
Yet, while the benefits of DLT in the public and social sectors are becoming increasingly clear and small steps are being made, few applications have been fully implemented and scaled. Despite its potential to address prevailing cracks within public and social systems, the current landscape of DLT applications within the European public sector is only just emerging. The private, for-profit nature of existing DLT use-cases, and the fast pace of DLT innovation, has often made it difficult to understand how DLTs can be applied correctly within the social and public sectors.
To gain greater insight on the role and impact of DLT for public good, an experimental environment needs to be developed -one that lowers the barriers associated to experimentation, trial and error, and sharing insights.
Supporting the circular economy and digital citizenship
We believe that impactful DLTs will be built upon strong collaborative relationships between DLT developers, beneficiaries within the social and public sectors, and impact investors. Therefore, the DLT4EU program will connect the expertise of leading innovators, entrepreneurs and developers with real-world, unmet challenges in the public and social sectors to create market-ready social ventures.
The program will focus on two sectors where DLTs have the potential to support a socially-equitable and environmentally-responsible European economy.
- Circular Economy: a new economic model for addressing human needs without undermining the functioning of the biosphere or crossing any planetary boundaries. Potential applications for DLT explored in the program include: supply chain and reverse supply chain traceability, ownership transfers in secondary markets, end of life compliance, and the management of urban green space and public infrastructure.
- Digital Citizenship: digital technologies to better facilitate and engage citizens in public decision-making, service improvement, and social impact initiatives. Potential applications for DLT explored in the program include: digital inclusion and accountability of aid, civic innovation, financial inclusion, personal data management, and community currency models.
A dedicated multidisciplinary team
DLT4EU is led by Metabolic Institute (NL), Digital Catapult (UK), and Ideas for Change (ES). This multidisciplinary team has proven expertise in the fields of DLT, sustainability, public sector innovation, digital social innovation, and social impact investmen and venture development from three strategic European geographies: Amsterdam, Barcelona, and London.
Solving real-world challenges through experimentation
DLT4EU will facilitate a distributed accelerator model engaging consortium partners, accelerator participants, mentors and the wider DLT4EU ecosystem. The program’s structure has been designed to stimulate DLT experimentation, innovation and uptake within the public and social sectors in close collaboration with real-world beneficiaries and the challenges they face, who can inform the development of their DLTs and ultimately adopt and scale the resulting applications. Beneficiaries include the City of Amsterdam; Dark Matter Labs; Spanish Red Cross; Digital Future Society; City of Sant Boi; City of Helsingborg; Agency for Digital Italy and the United Nations Development Programme.
There are two main pillars within the program:
- The Virtual Field Labs (VFL): virtual spaces for collaboration and practical exploration of DLTs for public good in close collaboration with real beneficiaries and challenges.
- Curated Acceleration Program: co-designed and delivered by each partner in London, Amsterdam, and Barcelona, this pillar will underpin the development of the DLT prototypes with a taught program that covers technical expertise, business model development, legal guidance, and impact assessment.
Mapping the lay of the land
The consortium explored the conditions, drivers and barriers of DLT uptake for the circular economy and digital citizenship. This has allowed us to collect data on the willingness and readiness of EU social and public sectors to undergo DLT transformation, and understand the drivers, opportunities and barriers associated with the adoption of DLT in public and social sectors. With this information we have formed a network of potential beneficiaries and intermediaries who are most willing and ready to adopt DLT-based solutions.
From this research, a short list of sub-challenges for each sector was developed, where we believe DLT can be most transformative to the EU economy.
Sharing and expanding collective knowledge
The experience and insights gained throughout the program will be shared to a broad network including social and public beneficiaries, DLT entrepreneurs and developers, policymakers and regulators, and social impact investors. These lessons reduce the barriers to DLT adoption beyond this program and inform future investment and regulatory discussions. Insights and impacts will be shared through a series of events and publications in order to facilitate knowledge transfer, share best practice, and guide future initiatives in relevant fields.
For more information about this project, please get in touch.