In future, the Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics IML will be crucial in advancing blockchain technology together with companies and other research institutions at the European Blockchain Institute EURO-CHAIN in North-Rhine Westphalia. Today, Prof. Dr. Andreas Pinkwart, Minister of Economic Affairs, Innovation, Digitalization and Energy of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, handed over the funding decision for 7.7 million Euro to the directors of the institute.

»The project to establish the Blockchain Institute will create a unique institute in Europe at Fraunhofer IML that will push forward digitization in science and practice. Blockchain as a key technology has the potential to design data exchange in a tamper-proof way and to automate a variety of processes in the supply chain and autonomize them in future«, Prof. Michael Henke, Director at Fraunhofer IML, describes the importance of the technology. As a transparent and decentral registry for transactions, blockchains have a key role to play in the digitalization of the economy. Only with blockchains can numerous other technologies be used on a practical level.

Institute continues existing research

This research at the European Blockchain Institute complements the Dortmund scientists‘ work and continues the already existing research infrastructure at this scientific location: »Blockchain technology will only come into its own in the next few years and that will be in logistics. In combination with digital platforms, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things a new and self-organizing ›Silicon Economy‹ is developing. We are glad to have gained the European Blockchain Institute at the heart of European logistics – for that is where it belongs«, explains Prof. Michael ten Hompel, Managing Director of Fraunhofer IML.

In the years to come, scientists will work on open source solutions in terms of software, hardware and business models involving blockchains. They will develop these for and with companies of all sizes. Particularly in logistics and supply chain management many different, economically independent partners work closely together that, however, do not inevitably trust each other. The focus of research is therefore on open and integrated solutions that can be used by all players on the market. In this way, entire logistics chains are to be digitally connected from end to end.

New stage of digitalization

»We are on the verge of a new stage in the digitization of the economy. Technologies such as blockchain, the Internet of Things or artificial intelligence are fundamentally changing business and opening up completely new opportunities for companies. The European Blockchain Institute will push forward the logistics industry in North Rhine-Westphalia in particular and will also make an important contribution beyond the borders of our state«, emphasizes Dr. Andreas Pinkwart, NRW Minister of Economic Affairs, Innovation, Digitalization and Energy.

The EURO-CHAIN project consortia consist of the Dortmund Fraunhofer Institutes IML and ISST and the Chair of Enterprise Logistics (LFO) and the Chair of Materials Handling and Warehousing (FLW) at TU Dortmund University. In future, 25 employees are to be employed at the institute. Following the project period, it is to be established as a sustainable and permanent facility.