Fujitsu opened a new international Blockchain Innovation Center in Brussels on March 21, 2018. The center undertake research with external partners, collaborating on specific projects to explore the technology’s potential and limitations. Fujitsu’s aim is to develop the potential of blockchain beyond financial services as a new architecture for information systems and sectorsof all kinds.
Brussels was selected by Fujitsu for the geographical, political, technological and linguistic advantages it offers to international organizations considering applications of blockchain technology, making it an attractive testing-ground for novel co-creation initiatives. The centerhas an international remit. Alongside local projects in Belgium, Fujitsu’s co-creation model has resulted in a number of international projects, including projects in Germany, UK, the Netherlands and participation EU Horizon 2020 projects.
“Blockchain represent a big opportunity in Europe. Many people think that Blockchain beeng solely about financial services bitcoin and cryptocurrency. It is not. I think Blockchian could be the world glue or oil for the world economy and the public sector. So that make sense to be in the heart of Europe in a country with a long track record of innovation like Belgium.” Explained Duncan Tait, CEO of Fujitsu Americas and EMEIA.
One particular area of expertise that Fujitsu plans to develop in the Blockchain Innovation Center is the use of blockchain for the design and implementation of Smart City services, focusing not only on technology, but also on important aspects of the cityof the future, such as sociological and demographic factors, societal organization, economic functioning and ecological challenges. The center will support and encourage research, development and innovation, both for Brussels and for other cities, throughthe funding of innovative projects by companies, research organizations and the non-commercial sector. Although the initial focus is on Smart Cities, the goal is to deliver scalable, secure, business-ready blockchain and Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) solutions in a wide variety of industries.
The first blockchain R&D project being developed at the center is called “Blockchain as enabler of services in the context of Smart Cities”, and is being conducted in collaboration with Innoviris, the Brusselsinstitute for the encouragement of scientific research and innovation. The 24-month project is focused on establishing blockchain knowledge and expertise for the design and implementation of services in the context of Smart Cities, in areas such as citizen participation and elections, and the interaction between smart devices, the Internet of Things (IoT) and a multimodal supply chain. It consists of two main tracks: to build fundamental knowledge about the use of blockchain for Smart City applications, and then to apply this knowledge to specific use cases, with the aim of creating meaningful business solutions.
Mr Kris Peeters, Belgian Deputy Prime Minister, commented that “Belgium is the ideal place to establish an international skills center such as the Fujitsu Blockchain Innovation Center. Not only it is located in the center of Europe, but it has also made the innovation the engine of its economy. In addition, our compatriots have excellent language skills, making them valuable contributors to multinational companies or international projects. It is important that all levels of government continue to work actively with innovative companies to support the overall economic fabric of Belgium. “
Fujitsu has already identified more than ten projects and multiple European cities aiming to fulfill their ambitions to become Smart Cities have also expressed interest in collaborationwith Fujitsu. The Blockchain Innovation Center it is expected to lead to co-creation relationships with international and Belgian public bodies, customers, partners andthe Hyperledger Project (see Alternative Blockchain platformsbelow) to extend the technology beyond the current focus of proof of concepts into scalable, secure and business-ready DLT solutions.
What is blockchain?
Blockchain is essentially a database infrastructure, originally designed for the crypto-currency Bitcoin as an alternative to traditional government-guaranteed money and bank-controlled payments. What makes this technology special is the fact that the data is multiplied and stored across a network of nodes. This data distribution is the foundation and strength of blockchain technology, as it enables trusted information storage without a central controlling body (or trusted third party often referred to as an ‘authority’) by means of a network of computers (nodes). New transactions are sent to the blockchain, where they are encrypted before being sent to every node for validation and, once validated, stored in blockchain building blocks. Every new block is linked by cryptography (hash tree) to the previous block (which, in turn, is securely attached to its predecessor block). This makes the chain immutable: every change in one block entails change in every subsequent block on every node. Blockchain is said to provide trustworthiness like traditional ledgers. Therefore, it is usually referred to as Distribution Ledger Technology.
Watch the full interview with Duncan Tait, CEO of Fujitsu Americas and EMEIA: