NATO Innovation Contest Seeks Military Blockchain Applications

NATO is on the lookout for military-grade blockchain proposals in a technology innovation contest.

AccessTimeIconMay 10, 2016 at 4:21 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 11, 2021 at 12:16 p.m. UTC
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The communications arm of the intergovernmental military alliance North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is ending a submission period for an innovation contest in which it called on applicants to submit ideas for blockchain applications.

Announced in late April, NATO's Communications and Information Agency (NCIA) is hosting the 2016 Innovation Challenge in a bid to develop "state-of-the-art technology solutions", according to the group. The deadline for submissions is today, with the winners expected to be notified by 20th May.

Among the solutions NATO requested were military-grade blockchain applications, though in its public call the organization left the requirements somewhat open-ended. Specifically, the organization called for blockchain applications related to "military logistics", "procurement and finance" as well as "other applications of interest to the military".

What those proposals might look like remains to be seen, and it’s unclear to what degree NATO will make submissions public – though the organization does intend to showcase the top submissions at a conference in Estonia next month.

At least one NATO member, the US, has shown an interest in battlefield applications of the blockchain. Last month, the US Department of Defense, through the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DAPRA), issued a call for a secure messaging system concept that employs a distributed ledger.

It's possible that the distributed data-sharing nature of a blockchain could find its way into a NATO-oriented logistics application, whereas the technology could be applied for payments for military goods and services.

The contest is also seeking submissions focused on connected devices, so it’s possible that uses of blockchain could be proposed in that area as well.

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