Kate Forbes MSP, Minister for the Digital Economy, delivered the keynote address as Edinburgh Napier’s new blockchain research facility was officially opened for business.
The Blockpass Identity Lab was built at the Merchiston campus as part of a £600,000 collaboration with Blockpass IDN, the blockchain-based identity application provider for regulated services and the Internet of Things.
The purpose of BIL is to explore ways in which blockchain technology can protect personal data from online scammers and hackers.
The initial three-year collaboration will support five PhD students and create a world-leading virtualised blockchain environment, demonstrating Blockpass and Edinburgh Napier University’s commitment to innovation and the development of sector-leading, citizen-focused systems.
A series of events will follow the launch, where speakers also included lead researcher Liam Bell, Dean of Computing Professor Sally Smith, local MP Joanna Cherry and Edinburgh Napier Principal Professor Andrea Nolan.
The inaugural Blockpass Identity Lab Conference on Digital Identity, Blockchain and Advanced Cryptography will be staged on Friday 28 September. This will be a day of research, new solutions, and thought-provoking discussion under the direction of the Lab Director, Professor Bill Buchanan.
There will also be a Hackathon on Saturday 29 September through to Sunday 30 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.
The Blockpass Identity Lab will focus on key challenges around identity and aim to build new data infrastructures which respect the rights, consent and privacy of citizens.
Kate Forbes MSP, Minister for the Digital Economy, said: “This collaboration between Blockpass and Edinburgh Napier 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.
“This exciting work to explore how blockchain technology can protect personal data from online scammers and hackers carries on the tradition of innovation and excellence exemplified by John Napier, the Scottish mathematician who is best known for his invention of logarithms and who is credited with bringing the decimal point into common use.
“It is fitting that this tradition of innovation is continuing in the university which is named in his honour.”
Adam Vaziri, CEO of Blockpass IDN, said: “Edinburgh Napier University is an internationally award-winning institution with a long history of excellence in technology, science, business, health and social care.
“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 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.”