Blockstart Feasibility Study: a clear overview of blockchain’s potential for you in 8 weeks

Windesheim is one of the Netherlands' top universities of applied sciences, known for its personal approach and for working closely with the business community and public institutes. In other projects, Windesheim and its partner Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences gained a lot of blockchain expertise, supplemented with large capacity of in-house knowledge focused on the logistics sector / supply chains. As part of Blockstart’s coaching, SMEs undergo a Feasibility Study to identify suitable opportunities for the adoption of Blockchain.

What is a Feasibility study?

SMEs that are curious to understand the potential benefits of blockchain technology (BCT) for their supply chain can sign up for the Feasibility Study. In a set of interviews and presentations, our research team analyses the relation between the SME’s value proposition and the critical data management where blockchain could be feasible. This business approach will not only show potential for BCT, it reveals a better insight in data management and digitalisation opportunities as well.

When we talk about ‘blockchain’, we consider the wide range of distributed ledger opportunities where smart contracts, network consensus and crypto security are applied in. We are always aware of the energy consumption and other characteristics of our offered advice.

What is our approach?

SMEs can sign up for a Feasibility Study once they have submitted the quick scan survey. As soon as they opt for the Feasibility Study, we schedule time to start the project. The research team often works with students in their 3rd or 4th years. All follow a systematic set of steps with well-chosen models and theories. The SME needs to provide the required information and needs to join several sessions with the research team. In a timespan of 2 to 3 months, we report the results.

What is the result?

By the end of the Feasibility Study, the SME understands whether and where BCT is feasible for their supply chain data management.  The report will clearly state the context, the chosen value proposition and the related critical processes and data flows. Apart from potential digital solutions, the report contains advice on the supply chain management related to the mentioned value proposition.

With a positive outcome from the Feasibility Study, the SME can apply for the Development Phase of the programme in which Blockstart develops a Proof of Concept of the identified (blockchain based) solution.

What are our experiences so far?

In late 2020, we completed our first Feasibility Study (FS). The SME involved became the first candidate for developing a blockchain use case within the Blockstart programme. At the moment, we have completed 7 other FS’s, of which 4 were healthcare SMEs served by 23Consulting, a specialised blockchain consulting firm in the healthcare industry. In all cases we have seen opportunities for blockchain in the foreseen future. In some cases, this future is soon enough for the SME to apply for Blockstart’s Development Phase.

What kind of solutions have we analysed so far?

We have worked on the transparency of provenance in a supply chain for sustainable cosmetics, with the aim to better manage the supply chain and to inform consumers.

A dairy trader wanted to be the first transparent trading platform with secured transactions on the market in order to serve demand and supply better, cheaper and more secure. Reduction of paperwork is to be expected, as well as the development of a Proof of Concept.

An onion trader wants to have a trusted, secured, and transparent exchange of data between farmers and themselves as onion traders concerning delivery data and certificates. The company expects to create more mutual trust and also have a reduction of the administrative workload with the buying, billing and receiving processes. The development of a Proof of Concept is also in this case expected.

A groundwater measuring equipment company also provides groundwater measurements as a service. They already have an efficient and extensive IT system in place. The clients receive in-depth information based on the detected data where bad measurements are left out or changed manually based on experience and knowledge. The latter aspects makes a blockchain application less likely to apply, because data transactions are immutable. At the moment, there are no trust issues and data are transparent, so the application of blockchain technology in order to create more trust, improve efficiency and transparency, was not advised.

The healthcare SMEs have issues with the reliability and security of data being exchanged between, clients, care givers, and other stakeholders. In those cases, the focus is on data exchanged without connecting with physical objects (goods). In general, cases require verifiable claims (ways to be able to check the validity of an information object) or proof of existence (ways to proof the existence of a specific (unchanged) information object at a moment in time). Both deserve a recommendation for a development voucher.

Lastly, an entrepreneur in vertical farming needs a transparent supply chain system between clients (restaurants), their own administration, and supplying seedling farmers. The aim is to get herbs as fresh as possible available in restaurants. The necessary certificates must be available all the time. The foreseen blockchain solution will be an elaborate smart contract being the backbone of the operations with the build in logistical concept. It is quite challenging but further steps are foreseen.

What can we do for you?

Are you aware of a potential use for blockchain technology within your organisation and you want to better understand the benefits, costs and feasibility within your network? Apply for the Blockstart Feasibility Study! More information can be found here.

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