Blockchain has huge implications for a wide range of applications. It points the digital economy towards a new generation of internet - The Internet of Value - where people can send information and exchange valuable digital assets like currencies, property titles and identity information, in a trustworthy way. Blockchain transactions can happen without the involvement of centralised transaction management structures, like banks, stock exchanges and government agencies. It can store transactional history in a transparent and secure way, so that the chances of fraud, hacking and interference are eliminated. The technology could therefore revolutionise business transactions.
Blockchain holds enormous potential for several sectors, including:
The use of space data will be instrumental in the development of many blockchain applications and is fundamental for this Kick-start activity.
Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) are instrumental in applications that require certified geo-referencing and timestamping of transaction data. Possible examples include: geo- and time- tagged photographs used for insurance claim processing on damaged assets; timestamping of land title ownership transfer; and asset tracking and tracing for supply chain management. The European Galileo system offers a unique opportunity here, as its open and commercial services will bring essential advantages in terms of high precision and signal authentication.
Satellite Communications (Satcom) can play a key role in the development of blockchain applications in several ways:
a) Satellite communications can extend blockchain service coverage to users in geographical areas with limited or no terrestrial communication infrastructures.
b) They offer an alternative way to distribute new blocks and then to maintain a single unified ledger of transactions among all nodes, independently of their location. This increases robustness of the service, by guarding against possible failures in terrestrial connectivity.
Satellite communications could transfer blockchain data flows (e.g. transaction requests and acknowledgements, blockchain distribution), without any specific processing on-board. The introduction of cost-effective, low latency and wide coverage satcom mega-constellations, as well as 5G networks relying on terrestrial and satellite components, will reinforce the benefits of satcom. These systems will allow users to access the blockchain and pass transactions seamlessly and independently from their geographical position, in a cost-efficient and timely manner.
Satellite Earth Observation (EO) imagery will provide key information to diverse applications, helping to reinforce trust between the involved stakeholders (by providing evidence). It could also validate the conditions of execution of smart contracts. In the insurance sector, EO imagery could for instance be used to assess the damage from floods and fires and then to automatically trigger claims processing. For supply chain management, use of EO could include monitoring the volume of an oil tank, counting cars on large car parks, or providing information about the position and state of assets. For utility management, EO data could provide meteorological parameters relevant to renewable solar, wind, water and other energy production. This could improve predictions of production and enable operators to adapt upcoming transactions.
Kick-start Activities elaborate the business opportunity and the technical viability of new applications and services exploiting one or more space assets (e.g. Satellite Communications, Satellite Navigation, Earth Observation, Human Space Flight Technology). This call for Kick-start Activities is dedicated to the theme "Blockchain", which means that the call is open to companies which intend to develop applications making use of these immersive technologies in different industry sectors.
Kick-start Activities resulting from thematic calls are funded at 75% by the Agency for a maximum amount of €60K per contract.
Funded participation to ESA's Business Applications Kick-start Activities is open to any public organisation, commercial client worldwide or space company (be it as group of users, public body or non-governmental organisation) residing in any of the ESA Member States that are participating to the programme.
To date, Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxemburg, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom have subscribed.
Individual ESA Member States have already made funding available for specific Thematic Calls on Kick-start Activities. For more details, please refer to the section Authorisation of Funding above.
In case you intend to submit a proposal for a Thematic Call and your company/organisation resides in another country, you are encouraged to contact the National Delegation.