On November 15-16 we organised the second workshop of our project #Blockchain4EU: Blockchain for Industrial Transformations, as part of a series of participatory and stakeholder engagement activities taking place until February 2018. You can read about our first workshop here.

This workshop took place at FabLab Brussels of Erasmusschogeschool, and we wish to thank its coordinator Ann Peeters for kindly hosting us and also to the students for their interest and support.

The project

#Blockchain4EU: Blockchain for Industrial Transformations is a forward looking sociotechnical

exploration of existing, emerging and potential applications based on Blockchain and other Distributed Ledger Technologies (DLTs) for industrial / non-financial sectors. It is coordinated by the EU Policy Lab / Foresight, Behavioural Insights and Design for Policy Unit of the Joint Research Centre (JRC) in collaboration with the Innovation Policy and Investment for Growth Unit of the Directorate General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship & SMEs (DG GROW). You can find more about #Blockchain4EU and follow our activities in our blog.

Prototyping workshop

During two full days we collectively explored future material and conceptual scenarios of production, distribution and use of Blockchain and other DLT applications for industrial / non-financial sectors.

Our focus was on the collaborative envisioning, design and creation of five objects, systems or services, thereafter referred as prototypes, which could physically represent or exemplify in tangible and interactive ways how Blockchain and other DLTs may be developed or operate in a near future considering five specific use cases.

None of these prototypes were required to be fully functional or demonstrate real-time Blockchain or other DLT operations. But as lowest common denominator their simulation properties had to provide answers for lay people to understand what they can do, how they work and what kind of interactions they offer, how they’re going to solve or pose particular problems, who are the social actors involved, etc.

Our main challenges were to build prototypes that could simultaneously: inform and challenge current views on Blockchain and other DLTs, in particular by policy makers at EU, national and local levels together with traditional industrial and business stakeholders; and also frame scenarios for uptake of Blockchain and other DLTs within industrial modernization policies, in particular those targeting SMEs interested in developing or acquiring applications.

The workshop was set at the intersection of Science and Technology Studies with Foresight and Critical and Speculative Design. Participants were a selected group of designers, technical and industry experts, and social and economic researchers. They all contributed to the material and conceptual prototyping activities and also engaged in targeted discussions which insured all prototypes were developed in ways that reflected ongoing and foreseeable debates on Blockchain and other DLTs within policy, economic, social, technical, legal and environmental dimensions.

Five interdisciplinary groups were created to work on each of our specific use cases: supply chains, authentication and certification, intellectual property, energy, and advanced manufacturing. The use cases were previously selected drawing from our project’s qualitative and desk research, together with other research outputs gathered through our stakeholder engagement activities, including the project’s first workshop.

One to two Policy Officers from different European Commission Directorates-General were invited to briefly join each group during the first morning of the workshop in order to provide input on policy files potentially relevant to the use cases.

All groups had two designers co-leading the process, who after the workshop are now taking on the task of creating a final version of their group’s prototype until the end of the project. All participants had an equal say, however, in the prototype development during the workshop, and continue to work with the designers to tune up the final outputs. The groups were as following:

  • Supply Chains: Cat Drew (Uscreates), Robbie Bates (Uscreates), Travin Keith (Agavon & Member Representative Hyperledger), Mika Lammi (Kouvola Innovation), and Marcella Atzori (University College of London);
  • Authentication and Certification: Gui Seiz (FabLab Barcelona, IAAC / Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia), Jordi Planas (Vimod Studio), Maciej Hirsz (Parity), Ivo Lõhmus (Guardtime), and Annalisa Pelizza (University of Twente);
  • Intellectual Property: Enrique Encinas (M-ITI / Madeira Interactive Technologies Institute), James Auger (M-ITI / Madeira Interactive Technologies Institute), Juan Blanco (Consensys Systems), Carlotta de Ninni (Mycelia), and Jaya Klara Brekke (Durham University);
  • Energy: Chris Speed (University of Edinburgh), Larissa Pschetz (University of Edinburgh), Marco Sachy (Dyne.org), Michael Rüther (Spherity GmbH), and Juri Mattila (ETLA / Research Institute of the Finnish Economy);
  • Advanced Manufacturing: Liz Corbin (Institute of Making, University College of London), James Tooze (Royal College of Art), Pierre-Alexis Ciavaldini (Particl Foundation), Burkhard Blechschmidt (Cognizant Technology Solutions), and Wessel Reijers (Dublin City University);

After producing low-fidelity mock-up versions of the prototype during the workshop we are now working towards creating their final versions for public exhibition at the project’s final event in April 2018. They will be later used for further research and policy design purposes, and showcased not only at the end of the project but also in subsequent policy, industrial or business events to trigger debates on Blockchain and other DLTs within EU sociotechnical landscapes.

Target audiences for these final prototype versions will be policy makers and other political agents already engaged, potentially interested in dealing with, or working in sectors that may be impacted by Blockchain and other DLTs. Additional audiences may include small, medium and large enterprises, industry, business and labour organisations, public and private research and innovation bodies, and specialized or general media outlets.

All prototypes and respective design or coding elements will be made available by the Joint Research Centre after the project’s conclusion under an EU Public Licence (EUPL), and where not applicable under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0).

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