The European Commission (EC) is offering grants to blockchain developers and other specialists for solutions that adapt technologies from civil to defense applications.
On March 24, the EC published a European Defense Industrial Development Program tender calling on small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) to propose rapid, cost-effective solutions — focused on new approaches and proposals for technologies or concepts that have previously not been applied to the defense sector.
Combinations of blockchain with “digital twins” for logistics purposes
As regards blockchain, the EC provides an outline to guide applications to the program, which stand to benefit from its 2019-20 254 million euro budget for grants, if successful. Specifically, the EC seeks proposals that are:
“Based on real-time cloud and on-premise digital twin benefiting from blockchain technologies’ robustness, able to channel all currently optimized logistics needs, such as chain of spare parts, maintenance, energy consumables.”
A digital twin is the virtual representation or mirror of any physical entity, asset or process — whether a machine, object, piece of infrastructure or human being. The field of blockchain can strengthen the integrity of digital twins by, for example, allowing for the use of tamper-proof cryptographic tags that validate the provenance, state and ownership of products or objects.
As noted in a Deloitte 2018 report, combining digital twins with blockchain can offer particular benefits for sectors such as the internet of things, which can be used, among other applications, for predictive maintenance in production environments.
Deloitte outlines that blockchain can be useful to provide secure identity management, transparent ownership models and efficient data analytics, all of which can enhance the flexibility and resilience of various systems.
As can be seen from the above guidance, the EC recognizes the potential of combining blockchain with digital twins for diverse defense-critical sectors such as supply chains, equipment maintenance and energy.
Submissions to the program are open from April 15, with a provisional deadline of Dec. 1, 2020, depending on the evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Blockchain in the defense sector
As recently reported, BAE Systems — a United States-based contractor that provides support and service solutions for defense, intelligence, and civilian systems — listed an open position for so-called “cryptocurrency exploiters” to support its operations last month.
In July 2019, the U.S. Department of Defense released its own plans for blockchain technology in its four-year roadmap for digital modernization.