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World's Largest Blockchain Competence Center approved in Vienna

Aus­tria star­ted devel­op­ing block­chain ex­pert­ise at a very early stage. The COMET Center (K1) Aus­trian Block­chain Center (ABC) aims to bundle com­pre­hens­ive, in­ter­dis­cip­lin­ary com­pet­en­cies in basic and ap­plied block­chain tech­no­lo­gies in one place. The ABC in­volves 21 scien­ti­fic in­sti­tu­tions, 54 com­pan­ies, and 17 as­so­ci­ated par­ti­cipants, in­clud­ing 16 in­ter­na­tional in­sti­tu­tions/com­pan­ies. The center’s re­search fo­cuses in­clude In­dustry 4.0/In­ter­net of Th­ings, the fin­an­cial, en­ergy, and lo­gist­ics sect­ors, and ap­plic­a­tions in the pub­lic sector and in ad­min­is­tra­tion. The aim of the ABC is the scien­tific­ally foun­ded (fur­ther) devel­op­ment of ap­plic­a­tions based on block­chain tech­no­lo­gies.

"An in­ter­dis­cip­lin­ary ap­proach is ne­ces­sary for com­pre­hens­ive re­search into and use of block­chain tech­no­logy, which is why ABC part­ners from many dif­fer­ent dis­cip­lines work to­gether. The center is a great op­por­tun­ity for Aus­tria to stay in touch with the high-tech gi­ants in the USA and Asia in this prom­ising field. The sup­port of so-c­alled 'hid­den cham­pi­ons' (i.e. own­er­-­man­aged world mar­ket lead­ers hardly known to the pub­lic) is im­port­ant to us," says Al­fred Taudes, aca­demic dir­ector and co­ordin­ator of the center, who also heads the Re­search In­sti­tute for Cryp­toe­co­nom­ics at WU Vi­enna Uni­versity of Eco­nom­ics and Busi­ness. Many block­chain-­based ap­plic­a­tions and busi­ness mod­els have already been developed with the co­oper­a­tion of es­tab­lished stake­hold­ers, in­nov­at­ive start-ups, and lead­ing re­search and devel­op­ment in­sti­tu­tions. The es­tab­lish­ment of the COMET Center will sig­ni­fic­antly strengthen these activ­it­ies and, as a key to the cre­ation of new jobs, will con­trib­ute to es­tab­lish­ing Aus­tria as one of the most in­nov­at­ive coun­tries in Europe.

Com­pet­ence center with five key fo­cus areas

The Aus­trian Block­chain Center will work closely with the ex­ist­ing COMET cen­ters CDP and SBA Re­search, and with in­ter­na­tional block­chain ini­ti­at­ives. The center's di­verse re­search and devel­op­ment top­ics will be grouped into five areas (Cryp­to­graphy, Tech­no­logy & Se­cur­ity (co­ordin­a­tion SBA Re­search); Cryp­toe­co­nomic Mod­el­ling & Block­chain Ap­plic­a­tions for Busi­ness (co­ordin­a­tion WU Vi­enna); Emer­ging In­dus­tries & Block­chains in Man­u­fac­tur­ing (co­ordin­a­tion FH St. Pölten); Data Science Meth­ods for Block­chain Ana­lyt­ics & Pre­dic­tions (co­ordin­a­tion AIT und RIAT), and Legal and Polit­ical Im­plic­a­tions (co­ordin­a­tion WU Vi­enna)) and will deal with eco­nomic, tech­no­lo­gical, ap­plic­a­tion-re­lated, and polit­ical and legal is­sues. The im­prove­ment of cus­tomer iden­ti­fic­a­tion and the re­lated com­pli­ance of banks and in­sur­ance com­pan­ies is just one example. Until now, this pro­cess has in­volved the re­peated sub­mis­sion of the same doc­u­ments, long pro­cessing times, high costs, etc. Entries in the block­chain refer to pre­vi­ously con­firmed cus­tomer iden­ti­fic­a­tion data, which fin­an­cial ser­vice pro­viders can use again and again without any fur­ther re­view. The legal im­plic­a­tions of this pro­ced­ure re­main to be cla­ri­fied from a data pro­tec­tion per­spect­ive. Fur­ther prom­ising areas of ap­plic­a­tion where strong growth can be ex­pec­ted in­clude the use of block­chains in cor­por­ate ac­count­ing and audit­ing, the es­tab­lish­ment of fraud-res­ist­ant tax col­lec­tion pro­ced­ures, the design and ad­apt­a­tion of com­pli­ance sys­tems, the sim­pli­fied pro­cessing of cross-bor­der cap­ital mar­ket trans­ac­tions in­clud­ing their se­cur­ity in rem through non-­pos­sess­ory li­ens, the in­tro­duc­tion of a cent­ral bank di­gital cur­rency, the cross-­com­pany ad­min­is­tra­tion of meas­ure­ment data, hu­man-ma­chine in­ter­ac­tion, ma­chine-to-ma­chine com­mu­nic­a­tion in in­dustry 4.0, and the im­prove­ment of trans­par­ency in per­son­al­ized mul­ti-chan­nel mar­ket­ing.

The COMET Cen­ters (K1), co­ordin­ated by the FFG, are in­ten­ded to sup­port and pro­mote the devel­op­ment and fo­cus­ing of com­pet­en­cies. They are fun­ded by the Aus­trian Min­istry for Trans­port, In­nov­a­tion and Tech­no­logy, the Fed­eral Min­istry for Di­gital and Eco­nomic Af­fairs, the par­ti­cip­at­ing provinces (in case of the ABC Vi­enna, Lower Aus­tria and Vor­arl­berg) as well as part­ners from economy and science. K1 cen­ters con­duct re­search at a high in­ter­na­tional level, provide new re­search im­pulses, and con­trib­ute to in­nov­a­tion, espe­cially with regard to fu­ture-rel­ev­ant mar­kets.

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