Recently, the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) initiated the Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP), which aims to provide advisory services and funding to accelerate the growth of local businesses through innovation and technology. Last Friday, the IRAP announced that they will be launching the Canadian Government’s first-ever live trial of a public, Ethereum-based blockchain technology.
According to the official report from the NRC, this move to incorporate blockchain into the Canadian government is to ensure the “transparent administration of government contracts”.
Indeed, blockchain technology is perhaps one of the best solutions to combat political corruption in today’s world. From a fundamental standpoint, blockchains are incorruptible, publicly-owned digital ledgers of economic transactions that can be programmed to record any form of financial transactions. Just imagine a Google Sheet that is shared with a network of computers, and the network is programmed to constantly update this spreadsheet every time a transaction is made.
Whenever data is entered on a blockchain, it becomes secure and immutable, hence this serves as a permanent record of all the transactions that have been made over a period of time, say, a fiscal year. This provides a system of ultimate trust and transparency, making this technology a must-have for organizations who wish to conduct transparent businesses, as well as entire governments themselves.
Over 6 months ago, in June 2017, NRC IRAP organized a blockchain “kickoff” session that was attended by hundreds of people from all government sectors at the Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) Service Lab. At this conference, the Industrial Technology Advisor (ITA) of NRC IRAP, John Shannon revealed the agency’s plans to test the feasibility of blockchain technology when it comes to the of the Program’s Contribution Agreements – providing a real-life application for the government and other public institutions.
The Team and Roadmap
This experiment can also be seen as a collaboration between some of the unique organizations in Canadian politics and economics. The involvement of Bitaccess, an innovative Canadian small-to-medium enterprise (SME) in the blockchain technology space, as well as Canada’s Build in Canada Innovation Program (BCIP), provided the initiative with avant-garde technical expertise and some much-needed funding. Meanwhile, NRC IRAP, whose work with SMEs across Canada generates a large volume of financial transactions and recordkeeping that requires transparency and public disclosure, also proved to be a competent host for the event.
Currently, the NRC IRAP is now live on the Ethereum blockchain and is constantly publishing updates regarding new and amended agreements in real time. Over time, the NRC IRAP will keep refining the blockchain technology and determine its potential to be applied to other processes in the NRC.
This move by the Canadian government marks a monumental step forward in the history of blockchain and cryptocurrencies, as it will provide constructive insight into the potential of blockchain technology and how it can be used to shape a more transparent and efficient government in the future.