My transatlantic tour: Talking blockchain/DLT and innovation

Our CEO, Susan, shares the findings from her recent trip to Ottawa, Canada, and speaking engagements here in Scotland.

What did I learn from my recent trip to Canada and return to Scotland? 

Awareness and interest in distributed ledger technology (DLT)/blockchain is strong among policy makers, regulators and businesses on both sides of the Atlantic.

All the press and hype has gotten their attention. Then too there’s lots of work to do - listening to questions, hearing concerns, and then providing some education about the fundamentals:

  • What’s the difference between cryptocurrencies and blockchain?
  • What are the benefits and shortcomings of public, open source platforms? 
  • What are private, permissioned shared ledgers and why do some sectors need them?
  • What are proof-of-work and proof-of-stake?  How do they differ from the consensus mechanisms being developed for enterprise use cases?
  • It what sense does DLT/blockchain help with cybersecurity issues?  In what ways might it introduce new exposures and vulnerabilities?
  • How is DLT/blockchain converging with other emerging technologies like process automation, data analytics, machine learning, artificial intelligence, internet of things, and augmented, mixed, or virtual reality?

While there’s a great deal of interest in what DLT/blockchain has to offer, there’s also a desire to cut through the hype and noise to reach a more measured, realistic view of the opportunities - and challenges - this technology creates.

  Discussing innovation, DLT/blockchain and the Spiritus in Scotland story with Invest Ottawa’s CEO Mike Tremblay and Alison Munro, Scottish Enterprise’s Director of Sector Innovation. 

Discussing innovation, DLT/blockchain and the Spiritus in Scotland story with Invest Ottawa’s CEO Mike Tremblay and Alison Munro, Scottish Enterprise’s Director of Sector Innovation. 

A focus on innovation in Ottawa

Courtesy of the Scottish and Canadian governments, my two days in Ottawa started at Cours Bayview Yards – a former municipal repair depot transformed into a state-of-the-art innovation centre and startup accelerator. 

Invest Ottawa’s CEO Mike Tremblay hosted a lively two-hour fireside chat over morning coffee.  I shared the stage with Alison Munro, Scottish Enterprise’s Director of Sector Innovation. 

We talked about Scotland’s vibrant technology ecosystem and innovation programmes. 

I shared the Spiritus in Scotland story and how we’ve benefited from its triple-helix model, which brings together industry, universities and the public sector. 

I also fielded questions about DLT/blockchain – topics I addressed again over two days of meetings with policy makers, advisors and staff from the health, food safety, transport, financial services, energy, utilities, mining and space sectors.

Addressing Medical Devices Safety conference back in Scotland

On returning from Canada, I headed straight to Glasgow for an event hosted by Health Facilities Scotland – Incident Reporting and Investigation Centre (IRIC).  

I spoke about the future of safety, security and compliance for medical devices to an audience comprised of Scottish and UK policy makers, regulators and NHS board equipment coordinators. 

While many challenges they face are peculiar to healthcare, many of topics and questions were those I had addressed in Canada.

The road ahead: getting the fundamentals right

Awareness and interest is high. Now comes the rewarding work of clarifying what DLT/blockchain is and is not.

To help answer some of these fundamental questions, we’ve set up a Spiritus YouTube channel. This includes my previous talks on the subject, and we hope to continue adding to it where events are filmed.

As understanding grows, we can explore blockchain/DLT’s potential to transform how society manages the health, safety and environmental risks of assets upon which we depend in our day-to-day lives and for generations to come.

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