Europe’s First Blockchain Research Lab Launches in Edinburgh

Bill Buchanan

The newly opened blockchain research laboratory is part of a £600,000 collaboration that will help drive innovative research to explore how blockchain can be utilised to improve cyber security. 

Blockpass IDN has opened a cutting-edge blockchain research facility, Blockpass Identity Lab (BIL), in collaboration with Edinburgh Napier University.

Located at the University’s Merchiston campus, BIL is part of a £600,000 collaboration between the two organisations. The primary focus of the labs will be to explore ways in which blockchain technology can be used to protect personal data from online scammers and hackers. During the initial three-years, the collaboration will support five PhD students and create a world-leading virtualised blockchain environment.

In the wake of numerous high-profile data breach scandals with big name companies, such as Equifax, Yahoo and Uber, the risks of centralising personal user data have become a key concern for both the public and private sector.

With GDPR in place and companies under greater scrutiny over their cyber resilience, many organisations are dedicating larger sums of money towards cybersecurity technologies. This undertaking by Blockpass and Edinburgh Napier University’s highlights the pair’s commitment to grow innovation and drive the development of sector-leading, citizen-focused systems.

Digital Identity Theft a Serious Problem in the UK

Industry analysts predict that the digital identity market will be worth $9.7 billion by 2021, which will open up a wide range of online services. With the coming of these online services, the protection of individuals’ digital identity is more important than ever.

The UK is one of the top countries for identity fraud and affects around one in ten people. Across Europe, around 17% of citizens have been affected by some form of identity theft, and the levels increase by the day. In 2017, credit card fraud cost more than £1bn, which resulted in 5.2 million people having to cancel their cards.

Therefore, BIL will focus on exploring solutions to this issue and build new data infrastructures that respect the rights, consent and privacy of citizens. A core factor of this is around sovereign identity, and where data, devices, systems and people can be identified with high levels of assurance.

Collaborative Partnerships are Key to Strengthening Scotland’s Cyber Security Industry

Minister for the Digital Economy, Kate Forbes MSP, said: “This collaboration between Blockpass and Edinburgh Napier University is a great example of the type of partnerships, which will help to ensure that Scotland has an innovative, world-class cyber security goods and services industry – an aim the Scottish Government and its partners are actively supporting through the publication of Scotland’s Cyber Resilience Economic Opportunity Action Plan.

Adam Vaziri, CEO of Blockpass IDN, said: “This combined with Blockpass’ pioneering approach to using blockchain to give users total control over their online identity is a truly exciting opportunity for the Blockpass Identity Lab and it will allow the company to establish itself at the forefront of alternative technology innovation using blockchain solutions.”

Professor Bill Buchanan OBE, Professor in the School of Computing at Edinburgh Napier University (pictured), said: “We are proud to be joining forces with Blockpass to create the first dedicated blockchain laboratory in Europe.

“Blockchain will have a significant and positive impact on multiple industries and the Blockpass Identity Lab will help to support its ongoing development. I look forward to providing updates on the progress of our PhD researchers and the latest innovations that we are providing to our corporate clients.”

Multiple Events to Take Place  the Week of the Launch

The inaugural BIL Conference on Digital Identity, Blockchain and Advanced Cryptography will be hosted on Friday 28th September 2018. A hackathon will be hosted on Saturday 29th September through to Sunday 30th September, which invites participants from all backgrounds to come together and build things related to digital identity and/or blockchain, or other distributed ledger technologies, identifying user-cases and prototyping applications for these emerging and revolutionary advances.



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