Blockchains for Social Good

This prize aims to develop solutions to social innovation challenges using distribute ledger technology.

The challenge to solve

The challenge is to develop scalable, efficient and high-impact decentralised solutions to social innovation challenges leveraging Distributed Ledger Technology (DLTs), such as the one used in blockchains.

DLT in its public, open and permissionless forms is widely considered as a ground-breaking digital technology supporting decentralised methods for consensus reaching as well as sharing, storing and securing transactions and other data with fewer to no central intermediaries.

In the wake of the widespread public attention for Bitcoin, several financial applications based on blockchains are already under development.

However, the potential of DLTs to generate positive social change by decentralising and disintermediating processes related to local or global sustainability challenges is still largely untapped.

Examples of social innovations in which decentralised solutions based on DLTs have shown clear benefits over conventional centralised platform solutions include, but are not limited to:

  • demonstrating the origin of raw materials or products and supporting fair trade and the fair monetisation of labour
  • allowing for a greater visibility of public spending and a greater transparency of administrative and production processes
  • participation in democratic decision-making by enabling accountability, rewarding of participation and/or anonymity
  • enabling the development of decentralized social networks or clouds, or of decentralized platforms for the collaborative economy
  • managing property, land registry or other public records
  • contributing to financial inclusion

This challenge is targeted at a wide range of actors: individuals, social entrepreneurs, civil society organisations, research centres from technological and social disciplines, creative industries, students, hackers, start-ups and SMEs. Tackling this challenge requires multidisciplinary expertise.

Prize value

€5 million

Expected results

  • pioneering decentralised solutions to global and/or local sustainability challenges
  • generating positive social change by making available novel solutions for decentralising and disintermediating processes
  • demonstrating the viability of solutions enabling a more even distribution and sharing of information and resources which respects privacy while providing levels of transparency
  • stimulating the emerging community of developers and practitioners of "blockchains for social good" applications

Eligibility and award criteria

The contest is open to all legal entities (i.e. natural or legal persons, including international organisations) or groups of legal entities.

The prize will be awarded, after closure of the contest, to the contestant(s) who, in the opinion of the jury, demonstrates a solution that best meets the following cumulative criteria.

  • Social impact: both potential and already achieved by the implementation of the solution (e.g. size of the community of users engaged by the actual implementation)
  • Decentralisation and governance: improvements in transparency and accountability (while respecting privacy and/or anonymity)
  • Usability and inclusiveness
  • Viability at large scale: cost-efficiency (including energy consumption), scalability, security, and sustainability
  • Clear added value of the demonstrated implementation for European citizens, in societal, economic or environmental terms

These criteria, scoring and the weighting methodology, as well as the detailed timetable and conditions for participation, will be further defined in the Rules of Contest.

While entrants are free to commercially exploit applications and services based on the developed solutions, their source code is required to be released under an Open Source Licence.

Indicative timetable

  • 2017 fourth quarter – contest opens
  • 2019 second quarter – deadline to submit applications
  • 2020 first quarter – prize awarded