“Workin’ on the Chain Gang”: Doing business on the Blockchain

June 19, 2017

Innovation in Canada is an important topic. This buzzword isn’t just on the lips of business and industry; it’s at the forefront of the mind of our federal government, and was one of its central themes of Budget 2017.

Canada is rich in natural resources, but is equally blessed with a smart, diverse, creative and well-educated population. And now, our priorities are aimed at making Canada an even stronger nation of innovators.

The National Research Council Canada (NRC) is uniquely positioned to help advance the Government of Canada’s Innovation and Skills Plan leveraging our knowledge and expertise to help explore new ways of doing business through innovative technology. Via the NRC Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP), we are already working with Canadian small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) at the vanguard of innovation. IRAP is designed to stimulate innovation in Canadian SMEs by helping them access, develop, exploit, and apply technologies to create new products and services.

Enter the Blockchain

Blockchain technology is something that many innovation experts are talking about as the way of the future. On the simplest level, Blockchains are public ledgers that records transactions, shared among many users. Once data is entered on a Blockchain, it is secure and unalterable, and provides a permanent record. Blockchains provide the ultimate in transparency and trust making this technology a brave new world for organizations that strive to conduct transparent business.

Today, in Ottawa, marks the unveiling of IRAP’s experiment in Blockchain technology. Joined by colleagues from across Government at the Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) Service Lab, IRAP’s John Shannon will describe a project to test out the viability of Blockchain technology in the administration of IRAP Contribution Agreements with clients. Although still in the early stages of development, the experiment is filled with promise. It brings together a perfect mix of uniquely Canadian elements. It joins together a Canadian SME in the Blockchain technology space, funding from Public Services and Procurement Canada’s Build in Canada Innovation Program (BCIP), and IRAP, whose work with SMEs across Canada generates a large volume of financial transactions, and recordkeeping, and necessitates a need for transparency and public disclosure.

“Blockchain technology holds amazing potential for the future for Government organizations” says Dave Lisk, Vice President of IRAP. “Bringing together so many players from across Government to discuss the technological potential and to share our ideas about the experiment is a great first step. Finding and exploiting innovations that will help Canada be a key contributor on the world innovation stage is important work. I’m excited to see where this leads.”

Sharing the plans for the Blockchain experiment at ISED’s Service Lab is just the first step for the NRC. Igniting dialogue with so many interested parties and players from other Government departments via this meeting is sure to help spark ideas and encourage innovation across the whole Government of Canada, creating more opportunities for a next generation of SME innovators. IRAPs plan will be put into action in the coming months and is expected to yield fascinating results about the potential for Blockchain in the administration of public programs.

Stay tuned to learn more about how this innovative NRC experiment unfolds!

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