Digital Catapult help public sector bodies to grow their understanding of distributed ledger technologies

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“Why shouldn’t public sector organisations benefit from collaborations with SMEs in the same way as others such as corporates do? We aspired to build a programme that would help grow awareness of the public sector’s eagerness to interact and adopt those technologies in order to improve their services to citizens. We also hoped it would help SMEs address those markets that are often difficult to access for them,” says Pierre Baisle as we speak with him, Katy Ho and Dr. Robert M. Learney from Digital Catapult about their contributions to the DLT4EU accelerator programme.

The DLT4EU accelerator programme identifies and connects distributed ledger technology (DLT) entrepreneurs with leading public and private sector organisations for social and public good.

DLT4EU is led by a consortium comprised of Metabolic, Digital Catapult and Ideas for Change, with direct support and advice of the European Commission’s Joint Research Center.

This interview is part of an ongoing DLT4EU Interview Series and was first published at “proofing future, bridging people + ideas”.

Katy Ho is the Head of Innovation Practice for Future Networks and Future Focus at Digital Catapult. She was the lead for acceleration programme design for DLT4EU.

Dr. Robert M. Learney is the Head of Technology for Distributed Systems at Digital Catapult. He was responsible for co-creating the DLT4EU programme, and is one of the technology mentors on the programme.

Pierre Baisle is the Head of Innovation Practice for Artificial Intelligence and Distributed Systems at Digital Catapult. He headed the open call design & process and Digital Catapult programme delivery team for DLT4EU.

Sebastian Klemm: Which deep economic reforms do we need to tackle, in order to arrive at regenerative & intragenerationally just societies that manage to live within planetary boundaries?

Sebastian Klemm: How do you at Digital Catapult approach and apply digital technologies to tackle aforementioned societal challenges?

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Click here to visit the Digital Catapult website.

Sebastian Klemm: The UK parliament has placed Catapults at the centre of its investment in innovation infrastructure. Could you elaborate on the mission of Digital Catapult in the context of the wider Catapult Network? As part of this, how does Digital Catapult help develop regional strengths and opportunities across the UK?

Robert Learney: Digital Catapult is the flagship for all advanced digital explorations across the Catapult network. Each Catapult exists to grow the economy through its applied expertise, and we often work in close partnership as sister organisations whenever joint opportunities arise to combine our deep sector, e.g. Satellite Applications, Connected Places. Digital Catapult is already well connected across the UK, with centres in southern and northern England and in Northern Ireland, and our activities and impacts reach widely across the country.

Sebastian Klemm: What ideas and aspirations led you throughout the design and development of the DLT4EU open call and accelerator programme?

Click here to visit the Digital Catapult website.

Sebastian Klemm: What particular qualities of the DLT4EU accelerator distinguish this programme in your opinion?

Sebastian Klemm: In a previous interview, Lynn Foster elaborates on the use of tokens as rewards within their DLT4EU project, where spending the tokens in neighborhood businesses encourages local awareness and more cycles of local economic activity, an ‘economic multiplier‘ which increases local resilience.

Next to DLT4EU, which other projects have you conducted at Digital Catapult where you leverage advanced digital technologies — like collective fractional ownership, purpose-driven token or other — to foster regenerative practices and resilience in societies?

Sebastian Klemm: The DLT4EU programme evolves around the focus areas of “Circular Economy” and “Digital Citizenship”. What characteristics of distributed ledger technologies make them particularly suitable for meeting social and environmental challenges attached to these sectors across Europe?

Sebastian Klemm: Aggregated personal data, its analytics, subsequent placed individualised advertisements and thus provoked conversion rates have most recently disregarded voter’s personal privacy and assumingly tampered the 2016 United Kingdom EU membership referendum.

Having investigated the use of data analytics in political campaigns with her office, UK Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham, CBE in a 2018 Report to Parliament states: “Citizens can only make truly informed choices about who to vote for if they are sure that those decisions have not been unduly influenced. The invisible, ‘behind the scenes’ use of personal data to target political messages to individuals must be transparent and lawful if we are to preserve the integrity of our election process.”

Being asked about how distributed ledger technologies may help to increase resilience within societies, Javier Creus from Ideas for Change says in our previous interview: “Identity and data self management supported by DLTs will surely empower citizens to develop new capacities and roles.

What in your view can be done with regard to citizens’ data self management to preserve the integrity of elections and campaigns in the future, in order to make sure that voters are truly in control of the outcome? In how far do “take back control” measures therefore necessarily have to go beyond adbusters and also eye collectively governed, community owned (social) networks to provide an integer basis for citizens’ data self-management? Could blockchain based token enable service platforms to become owned by their core stakeholders?

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Sebastian Klemm: Throughout the programme and along the bootcamps with mentoring therein: What evidence of positive impact and benefits of the DLT4EU accelerator do you see already?

Sebastian Klemm: In our preceding interview about DLT4EU Alice MacNeil says: “One of my favourite experiences was with the Venture Teams as part of a Storytelling Masterclass by Hayley Bagnall of Altus Impact, as part of the Barcelona Bootcamp in November. It was rewarding to see how the teams shifted their narrative about what they were doing, from a technology-first perspective to a more social, impact-driven focus. Not only was it fun, but we learned a lot about how to tell the story of your project and the power of storytelling. DLT can be quite niche, and this kind of approach allows us to tell a better story to a wider audience, to connect DLT4EU to a more public and democratic space.

What have been some of your personal pivotal moments throughout the DLT4EU programme development so far?

Sebastian Klemm: What is your objective beyond the programme’s winner announcements: How will you sustain your engagement beyond the final presentations at the European Commission in March 2021?

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