The European Innovation Council (EIC) has announced the six winners of its Prize on Blockchains for Social Good that will receive €5 million ($5.6 million) between them. Solicitation for entries began in May 2018 and closed in September 2019. The EIC received 176 applications from a diverse range of international individuals, firms, and public institutions. Creators of its 23 favorite concepts were invited to a hearing with its Jury of experts and public workshop in February 2020 before the EIC made its decision.
Dutch start-up WordProof received €1 million ($1.1 million) of the EIC’s investment. The firm aspires to rebuild trust and transparency on the internet, especially in the era of fake news and privacy concerns. It offers a “time machine” feature that uses blockchain to store previous versions of a website and show what edits have been made, as well as services to protect copyright information on a blockchain and improve firms’ SEO. The concept intends to be accessible to all and operates as a browser plugin.
The London-based food and product traceability company Provenance also received €1 million for its Proof Points system. This platform attempts to strengthen the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) “by enabling consumer goods brands to be publicly transparent on their social and environmental impact in a format designed for the Internet age”. The platform can fact-check brands’ claims and provide evidence to information hungry customers to support or refute them in simple formats.
GMeRitS, a blockchain financial inclusion solution created by the Finnish Aalto University, also received €1 million from the EIC. Concerned by the rise of structural market failures such as giant data monopolies and “knowledge silos”, GMeRitS is conducting large-scale experiments to demonstrate the feasibility of alternate economic models and governance. The project anticipates that blockchain technology will be foundational in facilitating potential changes to society as a whole.
The Unblocked Cash Project OXBBU, a collaboration between Oxfam Ireland and French fintech Sempo, was another €1 million recipient. The project uses blockchain to simplify the delivery of cash aid to people in disaster-stricken areas. Vouchers denominated in local currency are distributed, and can then be used at local shops and markets.
After judges couldn’t decide between the two projects, the final €1 million was split equally between French cooperative Kleros’s e-commerce dispute settlement platform CKH2020 and the Italian peer-to-peer energy trading system Prosume.
CKH2020 works to bring justice to areas traditional law courts have little influence. It allows people to become jurors and resolve e-commerce or collaborative economy disputes. Blockchain is used to guarantee evidence and jury selection is secure and not tampered with.
Prosume uses blockchain to create a digital marketplace for decarbonized energy trading, claiming to “sell energy at a cheaper price and in a more sustainable way”.
Thierry Breton, European Commissioner for the Internal Market, remarked that “participation from 43 countries in the Prize on Blockchains for Social Good has shown us the potential to address local and global challenges with blockchain technology that offers decentralised, trusted and transparent solutions. Europe has to fully recognise and support European technological innovations to address both industrial and sustainability challenges.”