Eight Of The Best Social Blockchain Innovations
Disruptive organisations and emerging start-ups are using Blockchain for good.
Most have heard of it, some understand it, but few fully grasp its potential. The blockchain market is booming and, despite its infancy, is expected to reach US$23.3 billion by 2023. But, is all the hype worth it?
Blockchain is enabling people to exchange almost anything of value —be it information, money or assets— without censorship, tampering and, most significantly, intermediaries. In essence, it’s revolutionising trade and, consequently, power as we know it.
While today’s highest-valued initiatives focus on currency, blockchain is improving security, democracy, and empowering some of the most vulnerable members of society. Here are eight disruptive organisations and emerging start-ups using the tech for good.
Nebula Genomics (2016): sequencing DNA for medical breakthroughs
With iconic geneticist Dr George Church behind the venture, Nebula Genomics instantly caught the world’s attention. Thanks to the blockchain-based platform, consumers can take a deep dive into their ancestry without compromising privacy. Users can purchase whole-genome sequencing, submit their sample, and receive results without revealing sensitive information. But Nebula Genomics really wants you to ‘spit with a purpose’ to help it identify causes of disease. By opting in, you contribute to large scientific datasets that enable unparalleled research into genetics.
Embleema (2017): sell your data and save a life
Hosted on a private Ethereum blockchain, Embleema is the first personal health record system enabling patients to bundle their health history and gives them full control with smart contracts. Backed by strategic investors Pharmagest and Techstars, Embleema is now working to create the first decentralised health data marketplace that provides patients with tokens in exchange for their participation in clinical research. By tapping into this real-world data, Embleema hopes to substantially cut down the time and costs for developing new life-saving drugs.
The Ocean Protocol (2016): the data utopia for AI advancement
The power of large datasets is almost limitless, particularly when shared across industries. That’s the exact principle behind open-source project The Ocean Protocol, which aims to democratise data and avoid leading organisations, such as Facebook or Google, being the sole benefactors. Our data is growing exponentially yet is mostly underused. The Protocol has raised more than US$28 million to unlock this data, enabling providers to share it safely. This would power faster and more bottom-up innovation, particularly in the fields of research and AI.
Amber (2018): debunking ‘deepfakes’
Only a few years ago, ‘deepfakes’ were an entertaining novelty. But these scarily realistic fake videos —often superimposed faces onto original content— have become a sinister problem. Amber Detect uses AI and machine-learning algorithms, the same tech used to create them, to identify falsified content. Partner tool Amber Authenticate also enables users to ‘fingerprint’ new recordings to help avoid future manipulation. The tools have already attracted a loyal client base of journalists and have mass appeal for law enforcement, watchdogs and activists.
Provenance (2014): mapping the origins of all we eat, drink and wear
Provenance is a global traceability system that anyone can use to track a product’s history — from a bag of coffee beans to a pair of designer heels. Along the supply chain, data can be attached to almost any goods through labelling and smart tags. Backed by Plug and Play and Digital Currency Group, Provenance’s mission is to build a future where every product comes with accessible and verifiable information about its creation. The organisation currently works with over 200 brands across industries and continents, aiding millions of consumers and makers, to make more sustainable and ethical purchases.
Prescrypto (2016): a health-tech upgrade for emerging economies
In countries where there’s a lack of trust in government and corporations, there’s a desperate need for more secure ways to guarantee data accuracy and privacy. Mexican start-up Prescrypto provides a blockchain-based infrastructure to collect prescribing information, send it securely to pharmacies and compile a thorough patient history. The UNICEF Innovation Fund-winning start-up has serviced more than 100,000 patients, and is looking to expand throughout Latin America, spearheading a new generation of local blockchain developers.
Alice.si (2018): tracking the impact of every donated dollar
Alice.si, backed by Innovate UK, Bethnal Green Ventures and more, is a donation platform that gives backers full transparency on what charities achieve with their money. The network, built on the Ethereum blockchain, allows donors to choose a wide variety of causes — from empowering women with digital literacy to contributing to animal protection. By bringing together individual backers, social organisations and investors, Alice makes it more appealing to donate and easier to scale impact.
Lendonomy (2018): a baptism into micro-loaning culture
While it joins a plethora of peer-to-peer financing services, Norwegian start-up Lendonomy stands out with its innovative strategy. Referred to as an ‘Airbnb for money’, it’s lending for young adults and combines gamification, social networking and augmented reality. Similar to renowned services such as Kiva, Lendonomy facilitates lending to specific causes while addressing the overall issue of invisible poverty, particularly among youth. Users also learn about money management and can build up a blockchain-verified credit history.