Australia Wants To Be “A Global Leader” In Blockchain Tech

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Karen Andrews, Australia’s minister for industry, science and technology, speaks at ADC Forum Global Blockchain Summit 2019, March 18, 2019, @karenandrewsmp, via Twitter
Image: Karen Andrews, Australia’s minister for industry, science and technology, speaks at ADC Forum Global Blockchain Summit 2019, March 18, 2019, @karenandrewsmp, via Twitter

In a bid to turn its blockchain industry into “a global leader,” Australia will be developing a national blockchain roadmap and allocating AU$100,000 (US$71,000) to domestic blockchain startups to increase their global exposure and for networking purposes.

According to a joint statement from the Australian minister for industry, science and technology, and the Australian minister for trade, tourism and investment, released on Monday, the roadmap “will focus on a number of policy areas including regulation, skills and capacity building, innovation, investment, and international competitiveness and collaboration,” and will be developed in close consultation with the blockchain industry.

Karen Andrews, Australia’s minister for industry, science and technology, emphasized that Australia had to seize the opportunities presented by blockchain, and stated:

“The national strategy puts us on the front foot in exploring how government and industry can enhance the long-term development of blockchain and its uses.

“We will work closely with blockchain and technology experts from industry and academia to develop the strategy, as well as with [the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, or] CSIRO’s Data61 to incorporate findings from their forthcoming future scenarios report on blockchain.”

The CSIRO is an Australian federal science agency responsible for science research. Its digital innovation center, Data61, has spearheaded several blockchain projects including the “Making Money Smart” trial, which sought to explore the potential of blockchain to create “smart money” through using the case of the National Disability Insurance Scheme, and Red Belly Blockchain, a “next generation” blockchain project promising increased speed and energy efficiencies at a global scale.  

“In addition, AU$100,000 funding will come through my department for Australian companies to join [the Australian Trade and Investment Commission, or] Austrade’s Mission to Consensus in New York in May, a landmark event for the blockchain industry, demonstrating the Morrison government’s commitment to boosting this sector,” Andrews added.

Simon Birmingham, Australia’s minister for trade, tourism and investment, stressed the importance of the country’s blockchain startups to “stay ahead of the game in one of the world’s fastest growing technology sectors.”

“Austrade’s upcoming mission will connect Australian blockchain companies and startups with investors and customers with a view to expanding their businesses globally,” Birmingham said, adding that Consensus, an event bringing major blockchain companies, developers, founders and investors each year to New York City, will provide promising Australian startups with the platform to showcase their products on the world-stage as well as the opportunity to network with key players in the space.

The announcement of Australia’s national blockchain roadmap comes at a time when local organizations Thomas Foods International, Australia’s largest 100% family-owned meat processor, and Drakes Supermarket, the country’s largest independent grocery retailer, are adopting blockchain to improve food traceability.

The two companies have joined IBM’s blockchain-based food ecosystem solution IBM Food Trust, a solution they have been testing for the past three months with the goal of delivering improvements in day-to-day operational efficiencies.  

“We expect to see more of this collaboration in the coming year, with groups of partners working together for the benefit of the entire food industry,” said Rupert Colchester, head of blockchain at IBM Australia and New Zealand.

“Transparency and traceability are the key to many industries now, and none more so than in the critical issues of food safety and provenance.”