The next economy

Rotterdam Municipality and Port Authority launch BlockLab

04/11/2017

The Municipality of Rotterdam and the Port of Rotterdam Authority have jointly launched a field lab for the development of blockchain-based applications. The BlockLab project is financed by these two founding organisations and supported by InnovationQuarter, a regional development corporation for the Dutch province of Zuid-Holland (including the cities of Rotterdam and The Hague).

Energy and logistics

The focus of the lab will be on energy and logistics — the first being Rotterdam's biggest challenge, the latter our greatest strength, says Maarten Struijvenberg, Rotterdam's Deputy Mayor for Economic Affairs. There's this huge buzz about blockchain, but actually, there aren't that many fully functional applications. We'll be changing this with BlockLab. This is important, because we need real innovations to launch the next economy. And blockchain can help us realise these.

For example, blockchain allows users to set up a finely meshed decentralised power network, in which companies can trade residual heat and citizens can trade electricity. And there are numerous blockchain applications that can be realised within logistics chains, allowing us to organise cargo flows more efficiently. That aligns perfectly with our 'smartest port' ambitions.

One of the projects that will be presented at the official opening of BlockLab is a blockchain application for stock financing in the port logistics sector, developed in partnership with the software company Exact and ABN AMRO bank.

Real-world environment

Initially, a core team of five people will be working in the BlockLab, located in the Cambridge Innovation Center (CIC) in Rotterdam. There they will work with consortia of developers and users, developing and testing ways to turn theoretical blockchain ideas into concrete opportunities in a real-world environment.

The BlockLab will also serve as a knowledge centre for the regional private sector. Finally, the team will be working with the Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences to develop a curriculum intended to marshal the influx of talented new blockchain researchers.

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