There’s a new trend taking place within the blockchain arena, and for once it doesn’t have to do with the technology disrupting an industry.
It’s “home-made” research labs.
We’ve seen a trend of blockchain projects focusing on developing, investing and partnering with research labs to ensure they build on top of strong fundamental foundations. Such research labs consist of developers, designers, organizational strategists and thought leaders- each of whom have a deep understanding of the blockchain paradigm.
Very generally speaking, the purpose behind the creation of such labs is for the respective companies to identify the opportunities and limits of their solutions, as well as the potential social and economic impact it may bring on individuals, organizations and communities in the long-term.
Even though blockchain technology is far from new, it is still important for organizations to take the initiative to understand the implications of their highly disruptive technology to properly capitalize on near-term opportunities.
Cardano is a technological platform that will be capable of running financial applications currently used every day by individuals, organisations and governments all around the world. It is considered to be one of the best-known blockchain projects for having a research-based approach.
The IOHK team employed a first principles approach driven by peer-reviewed academic research to build Cardano from the ground up, with the goal to balance the needs of users with those of regulators, and combine privacy with regulation. The vision for Cardano is that its new style of regulated computing will bring greater financial inclusion by providing open access for all to fair financial services.
A collaboration between Blockpass and Edinburgh Napier University was announced in April of 2018 with the goal to establish the Blockpass Identity Lab. The company is a self-sovereign identity protocol which offers shared regulatory compliance services for people, companies, objects and devices.
According to their announcement, with an initial scope of creating and furthering pioneering methods to protect consumer identity and the right of citizens to data privacy, the funding provided will be financing research staff, PhD studentships and a virtualized blockchain environment over three years.
One key area that the lab will focus on is Zero-Knowledge Proofs. At its core, Zero-Knowledge Proof, is the ability to validate the authenticity of information without having access to, or knowledge of, the information.
Another recent is example is project Aenco partnering with healthtech firm Aptorum, to fund research teams as well as academia. Aenco is providing blockchain-based solutions to its healthtech partners, where one example of a use case is the creation of an ecosystem for multi-disciplinary medical research collaboration. The ledger acts as a communication pathway where analytical outputs and interpretations of research data can be shared securely between permission-based users, without compromising the privacy of the data owners.
But it doesn’t stop with blockchain projects – just last month the Russian military has announced its own blockchain lab. Their main target would be cyber attacks and protecting their infrastructures, according to an expert from Kaspersky Lab. This lab will run straight under the Russian federation, and so we can see how much big organizations are looking up to this technology to find actual real life use cases and disruptions.
If you fly a few more hours southwards, you’ll also find China’s central bank blockchain research lab which was has just been recently announced. Both Russia and China see the opportunity to run their own internal research lab, so they don’t need to count on other people’s findings. They can experiment hands-on and decide if the utilization of a specific blockchain infrastructure is currently relevant to their needs. If not, they can just experiment on a different one.
There are many benefits that come from blockchain projects building their own research labs both on a large and small scale. These labs ultimately serve to be a model that all industries, even those unaffected by blockchain, can learn from, as it serves to be a driver for greater impact and longevity.
That said, one should consider if it’s fully logical for both new blockchain projects, and major corporations, to fully operate and run their own research labs. Think of the manpower and budgets being used, especially now when it’s a down market. It takes a lot of research to reach a conclusion when shifting heavy technology to a whole new standard.