Blockchain technology is being touted as the next big thing, and Canada will play a central role in its development.

The Toronto-based Blockchain Research Institute (BRI) has announced that it has received support from the federal government, the Ontario provincial government, and the City of Toronto, in addition to the University Health Network in Toronto, the Bank of Canada, and the Federal Institute on Governance.

The research program, which was founded in March 2017 by Don Tapscott and Alex Tapscott, co-authors of the book “Blockchain Revolution: How the Technology Behind Bitcoin is Changing Money, Business, and the World,” aims to explore blockchain strategies, and the market opportunities, strategic implications, and implementation challenges it presents.

“We’re delighted to welcome this spectacular group of public sector organizations to our initiative,” co-founder Don Tapscott says in a June 8 press release. “Blockchain will have profound implications for the operations of government, the nature of democracy and the modus operandi of every government agency.”

Navdeep Bains, Canadian federal minister of innovation, science, and economic development, highlights the fact that blockchain is “a great example of an emerging technology that Canadians are playing a lead role in developing.”

“This research partnership with the Blockchain Research Institute will give Canada a globally competitive advantage in the development of this transformative technology,” he adds.

Continuing this thought is Charles Sousa, the minister of finance for Ontario.

“Blockchain technology has the potential to help Ontario build an innovation powerhouse and create economic opportunity.  The new institute, based in Ontario, will bring together the leading thinkers, researchers and entrepreneurs in the blockchain space – and we’re proud and enthusiastic to support it,” he says.

The program is primarily funded by several worldwide tech corporations, including IBM, Accenture, SAP, Pepsico, Liberty Global, Centrica, NASDAQ, and Digital Asset, as well as blockchain pioneers Nuco, Paycase, and Cosmos, but is now inviting governments, initially in Canada and now around the world, to join.

Thomson Reuters, tech firm TMX Group, and law firm Gowling WLG, have joined the Institute as members, and BRI says it will announce a dozen more private sector members over the next month.

John Lee, vice-president of innovation and enterprise delivery at TMX Group, says that the company is “is proud to be a founding member of the Blockchain Research Institute program and to join other industry leaders in seeking out progressive, collaborative ways to deploy new technologies. We look to BRI as a powerful, inclusive enabler as we work to build our in-house expertise, increase our efficacy in serving our clients and elevate TMX’s role in modern capital markets.”

Stewart Beaumont, CTO of Thomson Reuters, echoes these thoughts and how excited it is to join the research program.

“Thomson Reuters has been collaborating on blockchain and distributed ledger initiatives and powerful proof-of-concepts for some time now,” he explains. “The opportunities these new technologies bring for our customers are really exciting.  Joining the Toronto-based Blockchain Research Institute program has additional significance for us, given that Canada is not only our home, it is home to an emerging ecosystem of world-class technology talent and our recently-opened Toronto Technology Centre.”

Gowling WLG is the first international law firm to support “BRI’s landmark initiative,” a point the company is very proud of, according to CEO Peter Lukasiewicz.

“With this commitment to blockchain research and implementation, our message is simple: we’re with our clients, step by step, as they explore distributed ledger technology. We look forward to providing the advanced legal guidance clients will need as they navigate this largely uncharted territory and uncover new and more effective ways to do business,” he says.



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