Announcing January's Blockchain Leader!
Welcome to the new year and to techUK's first Blockchain Leader of 2022. The purpose of techUK's Blockchain Leader of the month campaign is to showcase tech leaders that are playing a crucial role in driving forward the development of emerging enterprise solutions that can establish trust, help organisations with adoption and bring to life use cases across sectors.
This is also an opportunity to learn from those working in Blockchain about the latest developments and trends in this exciting, emerging and potentially transformative technology.
What are your current responsibilities in your role and what does a typical day involve?
I’m currently eCora DLT’s CEO/Cofounder and along with CTO/Cofounder Tom Whelan, we formed eCora last year to build an enterprise blockchain product based on a new, level 1 protocol, targeting central bank digital currencies with an emphasis on security and scalability. We’ve recently finished filing our patent and we’re now concentrating on expanding the product to look at financial inclusion and interoperability (hot topics in the CBDC world). A typical day in a startup is pretty varied, but it’s generally an interesting mix of designing technical solutions, reading up on the latest news and trends in the sector, getting potential investors excited about what we are doing, and like everyone else in the country, spending a lot of time on Zoom...
What do you most enjoy about your work?
Asking hard questions and coming up with solutions. In our case, we’ve built a blockchain that is anchored in Confidential Computing and Edge Computing so it’s hard to find existing technical use cases or well known practises to help guide our answers. Fortunately, Tom and I are veterans, and have been through a number of paradigm shifts in our careers so we’re able to think things through at a deeper level.
Why is Blockchain so important to UK right now and what does the future hold for adoption and maturity of Blockchain in the UK?
Blockchain is exciting because it has the potential to allow completely new business models to emerge, as well as helping existing businesses to reduce costs and increase security across a wide range of domains. With the ever increasing rate and sophistication of cyber attacks, and with economic pressure as the result of Covid and Brexit, the UK needs to establish ourselves as somewhere that the next generation of blockchain based tech startups can get funded, get established and scale up, and where our established companies have access to the right mix of skills to increase the efficiency of their existing operations to stay competitive with the rest of the world.
What industries or sectors of the UK economy do you think could benefits from adopting and using Blockchain technology and why?
Deployments in financial services and supply chain are already live, but as the ecosystem develops around this area and barriers to usage decrease, I think we will see a lot more imaginative uses that can capitalise on decentralisation, programmably enforced contracts and data immutability. The creative industries are a good example of exciting use cases - Royal just raised $55m to sell fractional ownership of song rights, so artists can generate income from their fans, who in turn get a share of the royalties. And even the Uffizi is now selling digital versions of it’s artwork (a Michaelangelo NFT just sold for $170,000!)
Given the global leadership of the UK in financial services, it seems likely that this will be the sector that benefits most initially, but I think the future has a lot more interesting things in store that we are only just starting to see
What do you think is the key challenges, issue or barriers that needs to be broken down if we are to make the UK Blockchain ready?
At the moment, it seems like the biggest challenges are business awareness and cost of use. Business awareness because there is more hype than substance at the moment (and that is clouding the genuine benefits that the technology can bring), and cost of use because at the moment the limited ecosystem of tools, educational materials, and real world skills and experience in the marketplace make experiments in blockchain primarily the preserve of ambitious startups and deep-pocketed big business.
How can the Blockchain industry and market equip organisations with the understanding, skills and knowledge to make the right Blockchain decisions for now and for the future? Do we have everything we need?
Government and industry bodies should champion UK successes in the space to get people excited about the possibilities, schools and universities should make available resources for people to learn more about the technology and the real world uses of it to ensure that we have the right skills in the marketplace, and we should look to establish documented best practices to give people and organisations the confidence to dip their toes in the blockchain water to see if it can benefit them.
What is your prediction for how Blockchain and DLT Technologies will change the way organisations operate in 2021 and beyond?
Now that people are seeing significant amounts of money running through DLT enabled projects, more and more people are paying attention rather than dismissing blockchain as just empty hype. Our prediction is that we will see an increasing number of well funded startups launch outside the realm of DeFi offering services with radically different business models, and that this will really get business owners and entrepreneurs thinking about what is possible and trying out new ideas.
Sue leads techUK's Technology and Innovation work.
This includes work programmes on cloud, data protection, data analytics, AI, digital ethics, Digital Identity and Internet of Things as well as emerging and transformative technologies and innovation policy. She has been recognised as one of the most influential people in UK tech by Computer Weekly's UKtech50 Longlist and in 2021 was inducted into the Computer Weekly Most Influential Women in UK Tech Hall of Fame. A key influencer in driving forward the data agenda in the UK Sue is co-chair of the UK government's National Data Strategy Forum. As well as being recognised in the UK's Big Data 100 and the Global Top 100 Data Visionaries for 2020 Sue has also been shortlisted for the Milton Keynes Women Leaders Awards and was a judge for the Loebner Prize in AI. In addition to being a regular industry speaker on issues including AI ethics, data protection and cyber security, Sue was recently a judge for the UK Tech 50 and is a regular judge of the annual UK Cloud Awards.
Prior to joining techUK in January 2015 Sue was responsible for Symantec's Government Relations in the UK and Ireland. She has spoken at events including the UK-China Internet Forum in Beijing, UN IGF and European RSA on issues ranging from data usage and privacy, cloud computing and online child safety. Before joining Symantec, Sue was senior policy advisor at the Confederation of British Industry (CBI). Sue has an BA degree on History and American Studies from Leeds University and a Masters Degree on International Relations and Diplomacy from the University of Birmingham. Sue is a keen sportswoman and in 2016 achieved a lifelong ambition to swim the English Channel.
Laura is techUK’s Head of Programme for Technology and Innovation.
She supports the application and expansion of emerging technologies across business, including Geospatial Data, Quantum Computing, AR/VR/XR and Edge technologies.
Before joining techUK, Laura worked internationally in London, Singapore and across the United States as a conference researcher and producer covering enterprise adoption of emerging technologies. This included being part of the strategic team at London Tech Week.
Laura has a degree in History (BA Hons) from Durham University, focussing on regional social history. Outside of work she loves reading, travelling and supporting rugby team St. Helens, where she is from.
Zoe is a Programme Assistant, supporting techUK's work across Policy, Technology and Innovation.
The team makes the tech case to government and policymakers in Westminster, Whitehall, Brussels and across the UK on the most pressing issues affecting this sector and supports the Technology and Innovation team in the application and expansion of emerging technologies across business, including Geospatial Data, Quantum Computing, AR/VR/XR and Edge technologies.
Before joining techUK, Zoe worked as a Business Development and Membership Coordinator at London First and prior to that Zoe worked in Partnerships at a number of Forex and CFD brokerage firms including Think Markets, ETX Capital and Central Markets.
Zoe has a degree (BA Hons) from the University of Westminster and in her spare time, Zoe enjoys travelling, painting, keeping fit and socialising with friends.