The European Union (EU) Research and Innovation program known as Horizon 2020 is running a contest, ending on 3 September, to find projects using Distributed Ledger Technologies (DLT) that incorporate “blockchains for social good.” Five awards, each of 1 million Euros, will be made to the teams who can provide decentralised models capable of meeting local and/or global sustainability challenges and, as a result, initiate positive social change.
To win an award, applicants are expected to deliver accessible web-based or mobile app platforms or services that meet the goals and objectives of the contest.
Under the stated overarching principal of “social good,” the EU document outlines a number of sectors where they believe blockchains and DLTs have “…shown clear benefits over conventional centralised platform solutions.”
- Demonstrating the origin of raw materials or products and supporting fair trade and the fair monetisation of labour.
- Allowing for greater visibility of public spending and a greater transparency of administrative and production processes.
- Participation in democratic decision-making by enabling accountability, rewarding of participation and/or anonymity.
- Enabling the decentralised social networks or clouds, or of decentralised platforms for the collaborative economy.
- Managing property, land registry or other public records.
- Contributing to financial inclusion.
While a number of criteria have been set for the entrants to address, it is interesting to note that one of the benchmarks specifically mentions usability and inclusiveness whereby “…the proposed solution is easy to use and affordable and can engage the largest part of EU citizens, irrespective of their gender, background, financial capabilities or computer skills.”
Having formally embraced the developer community through the International Association of Trusted Blockchain Applications (INATBA) earlier this year, it would now appear that the EU are at a stage where they seek a wider, public roll out of the technology.
Although the blockchain awards are substantial, they form only a small part of the program’s overall agenda as Horizon 2020 was granted almost 80 billion Euros in public funding during its projected 7 year life cycle (2014-2020) with the additional opportunity to attract private investment.
Horizon 2020 are also offering millions of Euros in cash awards for other innovative solutions in other challenging areas including Batteries for eVehicles, Artificial Photosynthesis, and Affordable High Tech for Humanitarian Aid.