Specifically, Aljosja Beije and Janjoost Jullens’ team is concentrating on two domains:

  1. Logistics;
  2. Energy.

Blockchain is certainly not the solution to all problems, but does eliminate the lack of trust that stands in the way of solutions.

... commented Aljosja Beije and Janjoost Jullens.

Blockchain provides trust and security as the data shared are recorded in a secure way in many computers.

Concerning Logistics

Things are actually changing in the logistics network today. The majority of positions are occupied by small and medium enterprises. For example, an average 28 parties are involved in transporting sea containers, and they have to exchange data a total of some 200 times to ensure that a container reaches its intended destination.

Thus, blockchain can enhance the efficiency of the above.

As Aljosja Beije, logistics lead at BlockLab reported

In this network, deploying blockchain is much more of a defensive strategy, focusing on retaining market share. Platforms such as Amazon and Alibaba are also emerging strongly in logistics. You could see these as the equivalent of coal-fired power plants: efficiency is created through centralisation. For existing parties in decentralised networks, cooperation is the only option they have to improve their efficiency.

Concerning Sustainable Energy

The traditional centrally-controlled electrical grid, supplied by a few dominant power suppliers with coal-powered plants. This is changing now that the energy transition is slowly beginning to take shape. In and around the port there are now numerous wind turbines and solar panels supplying power to the electrical grid. This is resulting in an increasingly decentralised grid.

However, that decentralised electrical grid is experiencing many barriers. The supply of sustainable energy sources is, for example, extremely irregular. This demands a smart network that continuously aligns supply with demand.

Blockchain is the technology that can facilitate such a smart, decentralised gird and help achieve the promise of the energy transition. The focus on blockchain is an offensive strategy, geared towards increasing the share of sustainable energy.

... explained Janjoost Jullens, BlockLab energy lead.

The advantages coming from blockchain lie in cross-sector applications, such as applications involving parties from different sectors.

For instance, Beije addressed the 'komgo' application, a platform from companies including Shell, ABN Amro, ING, Rabobank and Gunvor. The objective of komgo is to eliminate the paperwork associated with the trade in commodities.

She highlgihted

Don’t forget that the technology is actually only four years old. The concept has existed for longer, but it’s only in the last four years that we have blockchain protocols on which we can build concrete applications.

Beije continued that technology enables them to construct 'smart contracts', as the collection of logical rules that enables decision-making processes to be automated. For instance, the option of using energy automatically from a charged battery if the energy price exceeds a certain value.

Following, Beije’s team is working with ABN Amro and Samsung on Deliver, an application in which documents, data and other assets can be transferred from one blockchain to another while retaining their integrity.

She gave the example of the bill of lading stating that it's the most important document in sea freight, while she argued that there are companies that misuse the bill of lading.

With blockchain we can make documents such as the bill of lading really unique. We can play the role of civil-law notary, but also prove that there is just one copy of a document and from which source that document originates. As civil-law notary we ensure validated and thus reliable data. This creates unparalleled opportunities for automation and transactions and even new business models.

The researchers and their teams are also looking for opportunities in expanding the number of apps for container monitoring.

According to Beije, in blockchain-land there is currently a lot of discussion about the interoperability of various blockchains. The developments in recent years have mainly made clear that in the future, various blockchains will exist next to each other.

Moreover, the energy platform that BlockLab is launching will be trialled in the Innovation Dock in Rotterdam in the coming months.

Jullens concluded that big organisations are gaining confidence in the blockchain.