BlockMark Technologies, a blockchain start-up headquartered at the Wyche Innovation Centre in Malvern, has been awarded grant funding from Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency, to develop enhanced personal healthcare certificates.
The current COVID-19 pandemic has shown that an efficient and cost-effective way to demonstrate immunisation and/or immunity to the coronavirus could be useful in the future to help rebuild the economy, improve travel safety, enable gatherings at events, and generally reduce the need for social distancing.
Equally, the contact-tracing smart phone apps have highlighted the need for simplicity, a high degree of privacy, and robust data protection to ensure widespread adoption.
BlockMark Technologies has been developing an enterprise-grade certification system called Registry which enables a wide range of certificates and credentials to be issued, managed and verified.
The grant funding will enable this platform to be adapted for personal vaccination records that can apply to currently available inoculations and to any future treatments developed to combat COVID-19 and, should they occur, SARS or Bird Flu pandemics.
Tom Alcott, CEO of BlockMark Technologies, said: “Our approach is to update and modernise a practice that currently works in the world today, such as Yellow Fever Certificates for travellers which have been around since the 1930’s. Recently passports have become digitised with additional biometrics but International Vaccination Certificates (IVCs) remain on pieces of card, often illegibly signed by a local GP. They are also nearly impossible to verify. Our technology would enable immunisation evidence to be simply displayed on smart phones with a fall-back option for those without such a device.”
The project aims to link personal identity to the medical certificate as well as to enable real-time adjustment in case vaccination batches are recalled or more is learnt about the disease which means immunity can be extended. The goal is also to demonstrate a viable approach that can be rolled out quickly, with added innovation around the use of blockchain technology.
“There is a lot of hype around the use of blockchain for different applications, but we have undertaken extensive research to show that in terms of certification there is a beneficial use-case. The blockchain can be used to provide a pseudonymous immutable and time-stamped record of medical data, which because it is decentralised can be independently verified anywhere in the world,” explains Dr Adrian Burden, CTO of BlockMark Technologies.
The project grant is part of a £40 million government investment to drive forward new technological advances through the Fast Start Competition. Innovate UK received a record number of more than 8,600 applications for the funding from which less than 10 per cent were approved for further development.