The Dutch port of Rotterdam, the biggest shipping hub in Europe, is opening a research lab devoted to blockchain technology.
Conceived as a "knowledge centre for the regional private sector" and geared towards applied research, the so-called "BlockLab" is being set up in a joint effort between the Municipality of Rotterdam and the port authority to investigate blockchain's potential in organising port logistics and cargo flows more efficiently.
According to a press release, initial steps include the launch of a blockchain app – developed in partnership with cloud software company Exact and ABN AMRO bank – to assist stock financing in the port logistics sector.
Maarten Struijvenberg, Rotterdam's deputy mayor for economic affairs, commented:
"There's this huge buzz about 'blockchain', but actually, there aren't that many fully functional applications. We'll be changing this with BlockLab. This is important, because we need real innovations to launch the next economy. And blockchain can help us realise them."
Not all of the research at BlockLab will be entirely port related, however. The release also reveals an interest in exploring blockchain to give a boost to what it calls "energy transition" – for example, allowing firms to trade residual heat and the city's occupants to trade electricity.
This is not the first effort that the port has made within the blockchain space. Last year, the the authority announced it would be taking part in a blockchain consortium alongside 14 major banks and universities to explore blockchain opportunities within logistics.
Rotterdam port via Shutterstock