Yesterday U.S. Republican Senators Roger Wickers and Cynthia Lummis introduced a new Bill, the National R&D Strategy for Distributed Ledger Technology Act. The draft legislation aims to formulate a National Strategy for blockchain research, create a framework for funding research, and applied research for specific commercial applications.
“Distributed ledger technology (DLT) has the potential to make commerce more secure and transparent, as well as reduce marketplace friction,” said Senator Lummis. “Distributed ledgers have a wide range of applications from supply chain management to healthcare records.”
For the pure research aspect the National Science Foundation is expected to take charge of funding initiatives that range from designing consensus mechanisms and game theory approaches to quantum computing. While DLT is defined in the Act as both public and permissioned, the legislation specifies an emphasis on public permissionless blockchain.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology will be responsible for the applied research aspect with three specific areas, including digital identity, supply chains, and health data interoperability.
One of several motivations behind funding research is a desire to keep the United States ahead of the pack. Lummis and Wickers mentioned China’s Blockchain-based Service Network (BSN). The BSN initiative empowers small businesses with a permissioned domestic network and a mixed international network.
However, there are numerous other Chinese initiatives, including the state-backed Chang’an Chain enterprise blockchain run on powerful 96-core chips. And that’s just one example.
It’s not that there’s no research funding in the United States. In fact we’ve covered several businesses that have received funding under the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR), such as IoT security startup Xage and middleware provider SIMBA Chain. However, in many cases, the projects have been driven by the military rather than commercial applications.