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Innovation Associate knowledgeable in blockchain technology for real time economy platform business development

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - DLInnociate (Innovation Associate knowledgeable in blockchain technologyfor real time economy platform business development)

Reporting period: 2017-09-01 to 2018-08-31

Background. Digital Living International Ltd (later Digital Living), an innovative ICT development company wanted to explore leading edge blockchain technology to complement existing platform technology. INNOSUP-02-2016 call, the SME-led pilot programme for innovation capacity building action, looked for visionary SMEs to be supported for employing a highly-skilled experienced researcher (referred to as an 'Innovation Associate' or IA) for one year. The main idea was that with the associate, these SMEs would be able to explore the potential of their innovative idea and turn it into an innovation project.

Problem. Digital Living develops solutions to take full advantage of data economy and to create platforms where data from different sources can be combined and used for innovative service products. The platform creates digital twins of physical assets and identities and needs to ensure that data and identities can be trusted. Trust on the validity of data available online is a key issue in digitalization or platformatization, and it is necessary to make sure that the latest technology is trusted by the end users.

Solution. Blockchain technology is a new data architecture technology, which creates programmed trust for ecosystems. It provides new innovative business models by reducing third parties and inefficiencies. It also has the ability to provide transparency, access and inclusion. The technology is being used in many pilot projects, but there is still too little practical knowledge of the different ways it could technically be used, and how it could improve platform services. Digital Living has studied the feasibility of the blockchain technology within the financial sector platformatization project which demands for highly trusted data management. Further on, the studies on the business strategy of the company yielded an innovation project proposal in the eHeath sector where the demand for trusted data is also high.

Societal importance. Data is the fuel of emerging technologies, such as AI, AR and VR. Digital Living’s key technology, LifeEngine, provides data exchange on a platform by making data interoperable, mapping and linking data, and providing identities to real life assets and people. The company has been working as a collaborative networked organisation on open innovation with large organizations in the FinTech and built-environment markets. The company has a larger effort in digitalization than what the size of the company prerequisites. Digital Living enables a holistic approach to the knowledge and service creation from data by looking the entire process from the creation of data to the end of the chain of operations in data transformation. The focus is to combine data from different sources in order to be best able to serve any types of end-users in society. It is of large importance to be able to improve trust on data validity and transactions in these platforms and to explore new service models that digitalization enables.

Overall objectives. Digital Living needed to complement its expertise with knowledge in blockchain technology for secured Real Time Economy in cloud, both for providing applications to any client, and also for piloting the DEEP (Digital Enterprise Ecosystem Platform) business plan created as an open innovation project with a FinTech client.

Digital Living hired an Innovation Associate with skills in building blockchain strategy and roadmap for our company and for commercialisation of our product: the LifeEngine trusted linked data platform together with the data operator backbone technology.

The objective of integrating the IA as a part of the organisation was smoothly going while working on the client assignment project related tasks. The IA aimed and worked for opening up opportunities for innovation and significant growth for the company. She succeeded to initiate and propose for funding an innovation project, but in the case of failure the objective for a further employment of the IA was not possible to implement while for time being Digital Living works on project basis.
The work of the IA has focused on the WP1, Innovation Capacity Building: The matchmaking between a top-class researcher and Digital Living. The objectives of the WP1 have been followed.

The first half of the action focused on the strategy in the course of an agile process – starting with the establishment of the Digital Living strategy group and the weekly meetings which gradually turned into a continuous working process of ad hoc in-house discussions and work on client and partner meetings aiming to collaboration and assignments. The strategy group has developed a new concept of the data asset management business.
The feasibility of the blockchain technology in the existing Digital Enterprise Ecosystem Platform business has been explored in a closed collaboration with the client.

The creation of an innovation project and studies on alternative business models for exploitation of the new concept in data markets were in focus during the last period of the action.
Strategic Innovation Plan for secured asset management and business transactions and related innovation plans were studied and elaborated for finance, real estate and wellbeing sectors. In finance and real estate sectors the ongoing client assignments were complemented with new knowledge. In wellbeing an innovation proposal for the H2020 call was initiated and submitted and negotiations for national funding possibilities were studied.

As a highly experienced, the IA has carried out the training plan and implementation of it independently. Her career development plan is dominated by networking and training benefitting both her and the company’s needs.

Towards the end of the action the need to study the financial potential of new business model and related advanced architecture of the LifeEngine platform became obvious beyond the competence of the IA. The training was carried out in collaboration with carefully selected training professionals and following the learning by doing principle.
The IA has been a valuable asset in the planning of the company business strategy and provided additional knowledge on the commercialisation potential. She has complemented well the group of female Doctors in Science working on initiating innovation activities in the company.

Research, need assessment, and implementation planning of blockchain technology has been advanced well. Strategically most important aspects for the progress of LifeEngine technological development and innovation have been identified and further research has been carried in the area of blockchain identity solutions.

Focus until the end of the action was directed toward understanding better the implications of different blockchain identity solutions, and available identity solutions in general, and planning of prototyping a blockchain identity solution with Life Engine technology.

After changes in the business landscape, the targeted route toward international markets has been revisited, and suggested to be scaled up through open source licensing.

Despite the small size of the company, Digital Living is a forerunner in digitalisation of businesses and wider the society and in creation of related data markets. The IA has challenged in a positive manner the company representatives with her business thinking.