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Ambrosus looks at blockchain-based platform to improve supply chain

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By Joe Whitworth+

Last updated on 31-Jul-2017 at 09:21 GMT2017-07-31T09:21:52Z

©iStock/JIiraroj Praditcharoenkul
©iStock/JIiraroj Praditcharoenkul

Ambrosus has launched plans for a blockchain-based platform to overcome ‘deficiencies and challenges’ in the food supply chain.

The decentralised platform combines sensors, blockchain technology and ‘intelligent’ contracts.

Sensor system development is ongoing at the EPFL Innovation Park with financing from Swiss authorities.

Dr Stefan Meyer co-founded Ambrosus in 2016 with a team of nine employees. Previously, he led R&D projects at Nestlé, MHM Microtechnique and Vitargent Biotech.

Combining sensors and blockchain

Dr Meyer was the founding managing director of the Integrative Food and Nutrition Center at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL).

“The sensor design is for one use and will depend on the needs of the client. We are consulting first about digitalisation. The second stage will be design of the hardware and software for specific clients,” he said.

“Blockchain is not a mature technology, industry generates a massive amount of data and blockchain is not ready to accept all that data yet. The second part of the project is building the platform and coding to accept huge amounts of data coming from the supply chain.

“Industry was mixed at the beginning. We are consulting to help people understand where they can use blockchain and where makes sense to use it. Quickly they understand where it could create value.”

The firm will have an initial coin offering (ICO) in September.

“The goals are to have the platform ready in two years, we have eight testing trials for eight different products in eight supply chains. The goal is to transform the eight testers into eight successful products,” said Dr Meyer.

“In the real world you want a trusty person generating data, an accredited person at the beginning of the process that the government and consumers trust. With food the first person generating data is less trusted. You cannot send an accredited person every day to the field to generate data, sensors do this automatically.

“If you put fake data in the blockchain, you must remember everything has to happen in the real world but the procedure and hardware ensure data is not manipulated.”

The firm is building protocol on Ethereum (a type of blockchain) and the core technology partner is Parity Technologies. It will provide support as Ambrosus integrates aspects of blockchain into existing supply chains.

Ambrosus has Parity Technologies (Ethcore) co-founders Dr Gavin Wood and Dr Jutta Steiner as technical advisors.

Dr Wood said: “We are proud to support the Ambrosus project to architect and develop the technology that could improve the lives of many people by ensuring food quality and safety throughout the world.”

Ethereum ecosystem

Angel Versetti, Ambrosus co-founder, said the emphasis is on integration of next-generation sensors with smart contracts around the Ethereum ecosystem and Parity’s contribution will help craft best practices for the IoT industry.

“A system of interconnected quality assurance sensors can reliably record the entire history of food from farm to fork; blockchain can protect the integrity and verifiability of sensor data; while smart contracts can enable automatic governance of food supply chains and manage commercial relationships between the different actors within them.

Versetti added funds secured through the crowdsale will help create the community-driven ecosystem to build a better future for food markets.

“The combination of the maturity of the technology and the brainpower and creativity of participating actors provides a unique and clear opportunity to build a bridge between Ethereum and the food sector.”

Endorsed by EIT Food and SQS (Swiss Quality and Safety Association), Ambrosus has the support of the UN, EPFL, Crypto Valley Association and financial backing from the Government of the Canton of Vaud, Switzerland.

The firm showcased blockchain at the Global Food Conference of the UN in Pretoria, South Africa last month.

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