CoDE’S Research Wins: Impacting the Future of the World Economy

BREAKING NEWS…..The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) recently issued a major call for proposals, offering research funding for feasibility studies providing insights into the application of Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT), and bringing focus to academic research in this area.  We are delighted that both of CoDE’s EPSRC DLT bids, CoMEHeRe and Archangel, have been approved for funding – a tremendous result Surrey Business School’s Centre for the Digital Economy (CoDE) team, putting us firmly at the forefront of UK DLT research.  CoMEHeRe will research the application of DLT in healthcare, and Archangel’s application is supporting The National Archive. See a full list of EPSRC DLT projects here.

The digital economy will be driven by many new technologies, business models, and initiatives. A few long poles in the tent are beginning to come into focus, with DLT seen by many to be one of the most disruptive emerging forces. Blockchains and DLT could revolutionize the world economy, according to a recent interview with Don Tapscot, who popularised the term “digital economy” with his 1994 book of the same name. He sees blockchains as a democratising force that will rebalance the current lopsided digital playing field. Yet these technologies, no matter how promising, are largely unknown, and their potential applications are only now beginning to emerge through research and experimentation.

Blockchains (or distributed ledgers) are the technology that underpin cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, but their use is not limited to currencies.   They record information in a distributed ledger in a way that is both secure and immutable; by being distributed among many users these ledgers are resilient with no single point of failure, and they can be (depending on design) transparent to all users.   Described by The Economist as “the trust machine”, they provide supply chain transparency and data integrity, allowing a visible assurance of authenticity.

In addition to the importance of these research activities, both of the CoDE projects demonstrate the multi-disciplinary nature of digital economy research, and are close collaborations with colleagues across the University of Surrey and with industry partners. CoMEHeRe is led by CoDE’s Professor Alan Brown and Dr. David Plans with the University’s Centre for Vision, Sound, and Signal Processing (CVSSP) through Dr. John Collomosse, and the University’s 5G Innovation Centre (5GIC) via Professor Klaus Moessner, and will target Healthcare and Health Insurance alongside project partners BioBeats, AXA/PPP, and Guardtime. Archangel is led by the CVSSP under Dr. John Collomosse, and partners with The National Archives in a collaboration with the Open Data Institute (ODI). Each of these projects will receive nearly £500k in research grant funding over their 18 month life.

As Professor Roger Maull, a key member of the CoDE bid team, remarked, ‘CoDE have two out of the seven grants awarded — and as a university we have three out of the seven. Add this result to the existing CREDIT (Cryptocurrency Effects in Digital Transformations) grant, and it’s clear we are the major player in DLT research in the UK.’

Briefly, the two funded projects, demonstrating the potential and diversity of DLT applications, are as follows:

CoMEHeRe (Co-operative Models for Evidence-based Healthcare Redistribution) aims to transform personal healthcare through design, development and evaluation of DLT for democratising, commodifying and brokering casually-captured personal healthcare data (e.g. from wearable biosensors and the IoT) to public or private healthcare providers. The impact of CoMEHeRe could be unprecedented, creating new and sustainable business models for preventative healthcare, allowing users to maintain control of their personal data, disrupting actuarial science towards real-time, and providing an auditable chain of evidence.

Archangel will deliver long term sustainability of digital archives through new, transformational DLT solutions. These will ensure both accessibility and integrity of digital archives, whilst maximising their impact through novel models of commodification and open access. In practice, this project will help protect Research Dataset integrity, allowing research results to be replicated and proven even decades after publication. With the project partner, The National Archives (TNA), data such as Supreme Court video records will be ‘future-proofed’, allowing the verification of provenance and integrity. The project will also investigate how Delayed Disclosure Public Records can stand on an open verification platform, so the TNA can check integrity during curation, and also prove integrity at release.

Professor Alan Brown, Principle Investigator for CoMEHeRe and Co-Investigator on Archangel commented: ‘This is a wonderful result for CoDE, and a testament to the power of the CoDE team:  David Plans, Co-Investigator on CoMEHeRe and the inspiration, technical leader, and focal point for the CoDE contributions to the project; Davide Morelli, who provided vital technical guidance to CoMEHeRe; and cryptocurrencies expert Roger Maull and blockchain pundit Phil Godsiff, who gave guidance and reviews for both projects to ensure this fantastic result.’

Please contact us for more details, and keep updated here on the blog page about some of the great research the CoDE team will be carrying out over the coming months.


Kris Henley