The Case for an Art Coin

Tigris Ta’eed

I’ve always had a very clear idea of why I make art, and why others should. It’s a clarity which has on thankfully rare occasions stopped me from making art, or at least attempting to make it. I’ve always understood, perhaps instinctively that the role of the artist is to fill in the blanks, to frame the questions that have no answers and to legitimise our human lack of knowledge. What I’m talking about is the great unknown; where we came from and where we go when it’s all over. If we can learn to accept the fact that this fundamental knowledge is beyond our grasp, then uncertainty and ignorance must surely be ok. And if it’s ok not to know, perhaps even rather cool, what then for dogma?

Those very peculiar years between the greatest unknowns, birth and death, are filled with false certainties and charlatan insights. All we really know for sure is that we are unsure. Words like ‘perhaps,’ ‘maybe,’ ‘possibly’ or phrases like ‘I don’t know enough about it to have an opinion’ or ‘I used to think x but now I’m not so sure,’ are the sure fire P45s of the chattering classes with immediate expulsion from the smarterati.

Tigris Ta’eed

Entrenched ideas, immovable belief systems and implacable protocols are the enemies of art. Art exists to effect change. Its purpose is not simply to decorate, to offer investment opportunities or to allow collectors to bask in the reflected glory of a keen mind and a piercing talent. Neither does it exist in order to perpetuate what over the last two decades has become a burgeoning ancillary industry of celebrity curators, monolithic museum raising and art fair chic, with all the accompanying sneering cultural divisions and manufactured creative hierarchies.

Fighting dogma through accepting that the human condition is one of unclear thought and mostly hidden fragility is one of the ways that art can both instigate change, and maintain it. To this end I will be launching Antifreeze18 in May this year which is a unique celebration of visual art to be held at both formal and informal locations across the town of Northampton in September/October 2018. What sets it aside from any other national art event is that antifreeze is a direct response to the fact that much of the art we see in galleries and reproduced in journals and books is not representative of the cultural and philosophical values or aspirations, nor the creative impulses and needs of the broader populous. It is the aim of Antifreeze to recalibrate the visual art tradition into one which is relevant and inclusive and one which offers a platform to the thousands of people across the UK, both trained and untrained who make important, compelling and persuasive work but who are excluded, disengaged, disinclined or simply unable to conform to prevailing conventions.

Tigris Ta’eed

Antifreeze will bring together artists from across the UK and Europe who make art for reasons of expressive, communicative, poetic or political necessity. It will be antithetical to the current established art community and encouraging of art which is essential, profound, heartfelt, challenging, possibly unfashionable and perhaps transgressive or impolite. Selected work will reference the human condition in its broadest sense as opposed to the exclusively theoretical, fashionable or fiscally suppositional or prudent. Antifreeze defiantly isn’t an amateur art exhibition as the notion of the ‘amateur’ can’t be applied to artists who strive for these outcomes. Also the work submitted for selection will be subject to the same level of analytical consideration and criticality as that of ‘professional’ or established avant-garde work, except with significantly different criteria.

As well as choosing work for exhibition, the selection panel will also choose fifty artists who they consider would most benefit from one of thirty, £1,000 bursaries which will be sponsorship by local Northampton companies as well as the University of Northampton. Each bursary will bear the name of the sponsor. A really key factor in this whole event, and one of things that I’m perhaps most excited about is the fact that the work selected for inclusion will be picked up free of charge from designated drop off centers right across the UK as well as sites in Europe. (Albi, Toulouse, Perpignan, Antwerp and Frankfurt so far)After the 5 week period of exhibition the work will be returned to the centers, again free of any charge. The reason for this significant and defining aspect of the event is the fact that some of the kind of important artists that we are aiming to attract are either physically or physiologically unable to travel, or engage.

Tigris Ta’eed

The much ruminated, and admittedly overly poetic notion that the cure for cancer was lost on the battlefields of the Somme has some resonance within the current condition of the visual arts. Our Somme is multifarious; as I’ve said, the increasing dominance of the market place and the distorting effects of speculation, the fact that museums and galleries have become increasingly risk averse due to cuts in funding, a retreat from art education within the secondary system, and the louche pursuit of pedigree, status and celebrity at the expense of quality, consequence and weight. My piratical adoptive town of Northampton will help to recalibrate the visual arts tradition within the UK, which has become irrelevant and exclusive. Most people have experienced impenetrable modern art, and although the selected work will be held to exacting critical standards, engagement, resonance and the likelihood of intellectual, spiritual or political change will be decisive factors, all of which are democratically creative. Every arts society, every hospital, care home, college, university, studio collective, school, prison, working men’s club and community center across the UK will be invited to submit work.

The reason Antifreeze has taken off in the way it has, expanding unsolicited into Europe and garnering such ardent support and excitement across the UK, is that all those volunteering their time and their money share a set of core values. They might have quite different creative or personal tastes or preoccupations, but they believe wholeheartedly that art is not only important, but that its ability to effect sustainable societal change is worth fighting for. They witness the distorting effects of the market and the taste disfigurements of the unelected and the untalented. These are deeply principled individuals who are often wedded to a life of financial uncertainty in order to pursue that which contributes. An Art Coin could not only be used to maximise purchasing power through a broad network of collaborating businesses, institutions and support structures, but it could also be a badge of honour that reminds the kind of people that Antifreeze is seeking to celebrate that there is strength in numbers, and that what they do is not only legitimate, important and understood, but that it is vital.

Tigris Ta’eed

Blockchain, cryptocurrency, and supply chain money flows in Public Sector sourcing and procurement.

In the latest edition of the Social Value & Intangibles Review Nick Petford draws attention to issues concerning Brexit, e-procurement and the adoption of Blockchain technology as the platform for cryptocurrency in university procurement. The requirements to meet efficiency, quality, and social value challenges and to secure environmental and economic benefit are however generic across the vast Public Procurement landscape. But, whilst skilled professional sourcing and procurement practitioners are in high demand, a skills gap has led to a largely process driven and risk averse culture where the procurement teams are often seen as simply a compliance function or barrier to innovation, and outcomes are marked by an unnecessary transfer of commercial risk to suppliers.

Contract price erosion, higher levels of risk transfer and increased levels of bureaucracy when tendering for contracts has made the public sector a less attractive place to do business, particularly for SME’s. This trend needs to be reversed if citizens are to continue receiving high quality public services and a more diverse mix of providers are to deliver innovative public sector goods, works, and services. Meeting the need of this skills gap will involve moving the next generation of procurement professionals into proactive functions in the supply market: positions where strategic sourcing will see an enhanced importance in the development and mapping of money flows in the supply chains. It is here that Blockchain technology, supporting cryptocurrency transactions, may promise a revolutionary shift to build value, including social value, and leverage capability.

Blockchain as a Solution for Connected Health Services

The emergence of smart phones, cloud computing, and networking on the Internet has created a type of consumer increasingly accustomed to doing everything using smartphones to check bank balances, purchases, watching movies on mobile devices, etc. From here these consumers wonder why health systems can not provide appropriate applications for similar service using the Blockchain technology. Which led to the emergence of information technology companies working in the field of health that attract investment capital with the flexibility to design applications that meet the needs directly to groups of patients at the same time emerged obstacles for IT companies, notably lack of access to health data with no agreement on how to distribute the resulting economic benefits For smartphone applications and at the same time IT officials in search of the potential of Blockchain technology in health care to answer the following basic questions:
  • Who should pay for applications and electronic services in the field of health?
  • What is the evidence of the effectiveness of the services provided by the application and which are the reason for paying the wages? 
  • What conditions should be available to be the starting point for developing health applications with a business model?
We believe that the Blockchain solution is to strengthen cooperation between health providers and technical companies by enabling the exchange of health data to enable more efficient and adaptive health care delivery. The national health system must take into account that the framework in the area of health care data must be updated from the demand for standardised standards of patient health record to providing data access through application interfaces using Blockchain . The framework of the health electronic services system will be operated by accredited third parties and can be directed by the health system as well.
Blockchain technology can revolutionise the provision of health services, as well as help health systems to boot to reduce the cost of this development, the stakeholders to determine how to distribute benefits and take into account five basic principles:
  • Potential effects of technology on health care systems
  • Organizational changes
  • Secure the correct data
  • Financing electronic health systems
  • Security and privacy of patient data

I have discussed the Connected Health Services in my book, published in 26th March 2017, and for more information please access the ebook through the following link: 

Al-Zoiny, S. and Al-Sherbaz, A. (2017) Connected Health Services in Smart Technologies. UK: Kobo Publisher. 1230001603163.

Blockchain and Procurement

Blockchain is a revolutionary computing concept that has taken the computing community by storm, but in every new technology, there are questions about its security. This one is no different. In the paper to come, potential security threats will of Blockchain be analysed from a technical point of view and examined in a way to find solutions. The security of the cryptocurrency will also play a part in the analysis of Blockchain and the author may contribute to bitcoin’s security in the cryptographic nature. The writtens below are an overview of Procurement, blockchain from the understanding of the author. There may be edited versions to follow.


The acquisition of services, goods and work is the cornerstone of any business. These goods and services have to come from external sources. External to the organisation, institution or charity. The challenge is to find a source appropriate to provide the organisation with the product/ services which meet its needs. Following, the cost need to be agreeable and depending on the value of the purchase, time and contract negotiations need to be considered. “Large public and corporate organisations like to promote choice and greater competition with procurement and acquisition programs. Choice and quality go a long way in business.” (Anon., 2017)

The act of procurement is more than just organisations purchasing goods, or services, it is the building and maintaining of relationships with all sources of the services. Negotiating contracts and transaction prices are all a vital element of procurement. The concept of procurement is “maintaining fruitful long term relationship with suitable supplies”.

Business transactions have been reformed by this concept and are ever growing.

(Problems with procurement)

Procurement offers a plethora of advantages in comparison to a purchase only transaction, but it too has a few problems:

  • Accidental Orders – Sometimes an organisation can mistakenly order items they didn’t want, even though with a good relationship with the supplier this is easily rectified these problems are still very common.
  • Inflexible suppliers – Most suppliers will accommodate a purchasing company’s needs but some may not offer discounts or may even include surcharges.
  • Exceeding Budget – If they budgetary updates are not communicated properly throughout the company and especially to the purchasing department.
  • Damaged Goods – The company may only know that the item is damaged when it reaches its destination, then there’s a long process of returning, negotiating and reordering which has already caused a unnecessary delay.


Blockchain provides a new way for organisations to engage with technology to reduce cost, improve speed and transparency and integrate social value across the procurement function. It is known as the new ‘revolutionary computing’.

In brief, Blockchain allows competitors to share a digitally distributed ledger across a network of competitors without need for central authority. Thus no single party has the power to tamper with the records (Ledger). Every member of the transactional process will have a shared ledger consisting of all records of transaction costs, times, and even the quality of the goods. Essentially every member of the transactional process will be able to view the movement of the goods purchased, from supplier through all the middle-men to the purchasing organisation.


Marrying the Blockchain concept with the procurement process could be wonderfully beneficial as the advantages of Blockchain simplify the process of procurement, and the process of procurement joins well the concept of Blockchain.

As the ledger is shared between all those involved in the procurement process there must be a protocol in place for the verification of payment amounts and amount of goods agreed between supplier and purchaser. Blockchain has successfully dealt with this issue. When a record on the ledger is updated, it awaits the verification of all those involved that the update is correct before the update is approved. The ledger then, proves secure and the act of procurement can flourish with this new partnership.

Blockchain uses bitcoin currency. Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency, a type of digital currency in which encryption techniques are used to regulate the generation of units of currency and verify the transfer of funds. A bitcoin is programmable and can represent money, goods or services, at the discretion of the trading parties. A bitcoin can even be programmed to represent the funds for a particular need, it can be used to represent a departmental budget, ensuring that coin is solely used for that department, thus sticking to their budget.

Using Blockchain for procurement is an exciting partnership, whose lifespan will change the way of business in our future.

Empowering Consumers in the Circular Economy. Is Blockchain the Missing Link?

The call for a more sustainable economy is not new. It goes back as far as the call for global responses to climate change and the rapid growth of populations associated with the rising scarcity of natural resources. We are living however a momentum of unprecedented favourable alignment of technological, political and social factors that are enabling an effective transition to a more sustainable economy. The term ‘circular economy’ has emerged to represent this new economic landscape which is paving the way for business model innovations that maximise environmental and societal benefits with no detriment to economic gains. In general, the circular economy advocates, inter alia, the creation of production/consumption systems that:

  • Emphasise the delivery of functionality and experience (value in use), rather than product ownership;
  • Build upon collaborative or shared consumption approaches;
  • Create closed-loop or cascading (open-loop) value chains where recycling, remanufacturing, repair and reuse processes substitute or minimise disposal processes.

An increasing number of businesses are already implementing one or more of the initiatives above, which are fundamentally based on the prolonged use of products. This is the central point I would like to draw your attention to.

The role that end consumers can play to prolong the life span of products is not just a consumption issue, it is also a supply issue in the sense that consumers can potentially supply other consumers or businesses with products that can be further used, repaired, remanufactured or recycled.

There are actually digital platforms where consumers can make their assets and even their skills available to the market (e.g. ebay, Airbnb and taskrabbit). But these business models are third-party centralised marketplace systems that control the flow of information and currency between the parts involved. 

Another limitation for consumers is that a number of current circular economy business models are still primarily focused on the firm, relegating the end consumer to roles such as use or share and the subsequent separation of products or waste for reuse or refuse collection. This wastes consumers’ capability and effort which an effective circular economy should co-opt.

Co-opting the consumer’s capabilities and skills has the potential to transform regenerative product-service systems and accelerate the shift towards the circular economy. The main question is: How can consumers be empowered to engage and participate more actively in product reuse and recovery processes? Blockchain seems to be the key enabler to significantly empower consumers for the circular economy.

The advent of the blockchain technology offers unprecedented opportunities for circular economy business models geared by peer to peer (P2P) networks. Digital ‘blockchain-enabled’ platforms allow P2P transactions to takes place on the cloud without third-party intermediaries. That is, consumers can engage in transactions and securely pay each other directly, without intermediaries, through a decentralised and globally distributed blockchain network. By enabling consumers to circulate and recapture value from their underused assets, blockchain platforms have the power to significantly catalyse the shift from the linear to the circular economy.

The opportunities that can be created with the support of the blockchain technology are limitless, including the value one can attach to the currency, or coin, used in blockchain marketplaces. Currency value is no longer limited to hard tangible financial value. Intangible social and environmental values can also be attached to an ‘extra-financial’ coin that connects socio-environmental value to financial value. The main challenge is to define the metrics to represent intangible values. Pioneering initiatives to tackle this issue are already in place. The CCEG Blockchain UN Lab has been developing projects aimed at enabling transactions of intangible and non-financial values using a unique combination of blockchain technology. You are welcome to take this challenge with us, helping to shape the new marketplaces for the circular economy.

As an example, follow this interactive prezi or watch video of Circular Economy in a city context

The Foundation For “Women’s Coin”


You know I sort of thought that as the millennium dawned we had reached the age of enlightenment and tolerance.  That the 21st Century was a brave new world promoting values of compassion, tolerance,  human rights and support for the eco system in which we live.

But in 2016 the world seemed to go into reverse   A vortex of narcissistic leadership emerged fuelling individual’s base fear, hate and distrust of others who are different in race, colour, creed and sexuality.   Pinning economic failures on others rather than promoting a reliance on self-empowerment. 

Gutted! Where are we, as a human race – if we do not have compassion?

The murder of MP Jo Cox sadly reflected the emergent vortex of hate. She should not have died in vane her words shine as a beacon for us …

We are far more valued and have more in common with each other than things that divide us

Women as creators of life have a strong desire for the world to be better – for our children, and their children’s children.  It is in our DNA ….  The role of women as protector nurturing the next generation is part of the fabric of society.

The Trump inauguration triggered a reaction unprecedented in modern times.   Our ancestors paved the way for women to march and make their voices heard.  And march they did.  The women’s march made history – in a show of global solidarity over 4 million women marched in cities around the world.  Not just women but men and their children showing support for basic human and family rights.

The march was a line in the sand. 

Listen to our voices. Ah but do not just listen to our voices – listen to the power of our money

In the US women have decision-making power over $11.2 trillion, or 39 percent of the nation’s estimated £28.6 trillion in investable assets.  According to Salie Krawcheck, former president of the global wealth management division of Bank of America …

Women are on their way to be the majority of US millionaires in the not too distant future

Her advice is to “offer values-based investing services”.   She used to think that social impact investing was “not real investing” but she says she has changed her mind – women really want to “have a fair return and have an impact”

It is the power that women will have over investment and spending that will bring about societal and political change.  The Foundation for Women’s Coin will be at the forefront of the change.


The intent is ambitious, but easily within grasp.

The Foundation for Women’s Coin creates a platform “The Coin Collaboration” of Philanthropic Organisations, Foundations, Women’s networks, aligned organisations and individual women to join forces and use their fiscal power to deliver social and political change.

The Coin Collaboration has a set of values and guiding principles that members are asked to sign up to.  Trust between members is paramount.  The power of many can be used to focus on one key women’s goal.   Members can decide if they wish to collaborate and focus their energy to maximise impact – or whether small, local changes work for them.  The Coin Collaborative is democratic member driven Foundation.   Once part of the Collaboration members can use their purchasing power through Women’s Coin to affect the change they want. 

The Foundation will seek to be an exemplar in the world of alternative currency – setting standards and a charter mark (endorsement by the United Nations).    Women’s Coin will set a new value base for financial organisations that is driven by women to bring a new realism to the current profit/bonus driven financial institutions.


Our mission is to bring about change, in collaboration with others. that will improve the lives of women and children, ensure social progression and foster self-reliance and self-esteem.  Purchasing power by women for women.

Women’s Coin is not just another Fintech offering alternative means of finance – it has a soul and intent to deliver solutions and hope

Women’s Coin promotes the core values of integrity and respect for diversity and the 17 underpinning principles of the United Nations’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). 


Finance:  It makes fiscal sense

  • Maximise every transaction – no deduction of fees or overhead charges
  • Build financial resilience
  • Ensures those who need funds – get funds

Global Connectivity

Women’s coin creates a women’s social movement of connected individuals, and aligned profit and not for profit organisations.  The power of social media and the internet of value ensure mass connectivity and profile across the world

Social Value

  • Promotes social value investment
  • Reinforces the purchasing power of women to influence policy makers, public bodies, employers, and services

Adoption and Engagement

The creation of a global social movement has appeal and benefit for individuals and organisations.  Connectivity Is a click away.  The documented journey will be the vehicle for promoting vision and the hurdles to be overcome and the joy “Women’s Coin” brings to the lives of ordinary women. The profile provides momentum and adoption.


The Foundation for Women’s Coin will use latest blockchain cyrptocurrency technology.  The aim is to bring about change, in collaboration with others. that will improve the lives of women, ensure social progression whilst fostering self-reliance. 

The journey from concept to “Coin Collaboration” will be the subject of a film documentary. The documentary will capture the highs and lows of delivering societal change through blockchain technology and people power.  Excepts will be posted on YouTube – going viral with the message of the power of women to support other women.

The concept that … if women use the currency they can make informed decisions of where to make investment (eg ethically sourced investment), procure services founded by women, use the coin to help developing countries help themselves and avoid corruption (especially those with closed currency). They create a new climate in banking where the disproportionment of salaries between the top and bottom of organisations are not rewarded through women’s investment. Stop unpalatable bonuses in banking where behaviours and targets are not rewarded. Be a new ‘paypal’ for women … womenpal

Visiting Professor Christine Bamford

Supply chain provenance from cradle to grave

Leather Industry with Ethical Issues

In the new era of sustainable markets, like all industries buying a leather bag carries with it ethical connotations. In reality, consumers are offered little provenance information about pieces of clothing, footwear or fashion accessories. With greater recognition surrounding animal protection, human right, sustainable development and chemical processing the leather industry is facing a growing demand for transparency in their supply chains.

Each year, the leather industry slaughters more than a billion animals and tans their skins and hides. Not only the skins of cattle or calves, with the diversity demanded by customers, suppliers need to meet discerning consumer demands for sustainable practices. Although, for example, the typically alligators can reach up to 60 years, in farms, the animal is slaughtered before the age of 2 due to length considerations. Animal husbandry during those brief years plays an important part.  

Worker, Moroccan Tannery

The scandal of child worker in leather tanneries in Bangladesh in 2012 highlights that leather products are sometimes produced by underpaid workers in unacceptable conditions. Modern Slavery is not by any means an issue unique to the industry but needs to be tackled when found.

Apart from the impact on humans and animals, leather manufacturing can have environmental considerations. The older more traditional tanneries use by necessity toxic chemicals which then necessitates extensive waste processing. There is a drive in the industry towards much greater responsible practices.

To combat growing consumer awareness of such issues, the transparency of product provenance, trace-ability and effective control of suppliers are key to the growth of the sector. The question arises as to how this can be achieved most efficiently, with least cost, and maximum impact.

Potential of Block-chain Technology

One essentially need to prove to customers that they are buying a ‘good’ product, rather than one with questionable provenance. With the development of international trade and global value chains, making any product is complex intertwining a large number of suppliers with multi-step  processes. Each step involves the creation of  data, storage and centralized access. Technically, having detailed information of products from birth to death is impossible. These complexities make supply chain provenance a significant non-trivial exercise.

Block-chain technology can potentially improve the transparency and trace-ability issues within the manufacturing supply chain through the use of immutable record of data, distributed storage, and controlled user access. All data in each step of the supply chain will update directly and securely in block-chain. All stakeholders could trace and access information of the product with every detail of the animal husbandry, labour conditions, chemical processes and other intangible KPI’s that directly effect the tangible price of the product at each stage.

The Proposed Framework

The proposed approach comprises of a decentralized distributed system that uses blockchain(s) to collect, store and manage key product information throughout its life cycle. This creates a secure, shared record of exchange for each product along with specific product information.

We propose three main stage.

  • The first stage is collecting data. As a product moves through its life cycle, it is defined by a variety of actors – eg producers, suppliers, manufacturers, distributors, retailers and finally the end consumer. Each of these actors play an important part in this system, logging in key information about the product and its current status on to the block-chain network. Each product would have a unique digital profile containing all related information, populated during various life cycle stages.


  • The second stage is verifying data. In this stage, all data collected from input stage will be gathered and compared with the block-chain. This is double verification process to ensure that all data input is identical and acceptable.
  • The third stage is calculating data. All data, both tangible financial data as well as intangible non-financial data must be represented in a consistent way to allow comparisons. In this stages, data also will be encrypted and added to block-chain.

Overall, the movement of total value will be parallel processed from farm to land-fill.

In each step, the financial value and non-financial value will be tracked –  evaluated, added or subtracted from the product provenance. Through all stage of the production cycle, the total value of product will be illustrated and articulated in simple metrics including at the end to the consumer to allow decisions to be made.

A Collective Vision

When you can measure it, you can influence the sustainable development of the cycle.  It allows for both upstream and downstream controls to be enabled and embedded, from farms to land-fill. In effect a product can carry a digital passport that contains all the information you need to make and direct decision making at each stage.

The AI Wallet

This project aims to develop an Artificial Intelligence Wallet that would help one make personalised informed business decisions and transactions within the Seratio blockchain. The AI Bot inspired digital wallet would recommend products, processes, suppliers to individuals and organisations based on personal preferences. Personal preference here refers to each individual or organisations’s desired total transaction value that incorporates both the tangible asset value and the intangible value. Each individual or organisation’s total value is calculated and represented using the Social Earnings Ratio metrics. For example, consider the process of buying a product by logging into Amazon’s website: A customer can search for a product by specifying various criteria such as price range, customer ratings, delivery time, etc. The website would then display relevant products matching your specified criteria. The customer can then make a selection and purchase a product. Now, Amazon stores your browsing and purchase history. The next time the same customer looks to purchase such an item, Amazon makes suitable recommendations based on his/her history, on what other customers with similar choices purchased and so on. The AI wallet would do something similar within a Seratio blockchain by making suitable recommendations based on criteria including both financial and non-financial values. The AI wallet could also go one step further and complete the blockchain transaction. The service could also be ultimately offered in the form of mobile apps.

For further information, please contact Dr Suraj Ajit at

Goods, Information and Funds: The Role of Infrastructure in Technological Revolutions

Each of the technological revolutions of the past two hundred and fifty years has been associated with a step change in infrastructure.

As much as canals and water power were entwined in the success of the Industrial Revolution, railways and ports were instrumental in the delivery of globally traded goods to the new urban centres of the early Nineteenth century.

Electricity networks in 1870s, road networks in the early 20th century and digital networks in the 1970s – all have facilitated the lowering of costs and changes in communication that have shaped the modern world.

In general, this process of investing in infrastructure has resulted in a liberalisation of trade, yet we are about to see the process of trade liberalisation stall, from a UK perspective, by the triggering of Article 50 and the beginning of the process of the UK exiting the European Union.

The prospect of reintroducing tariffs is, rightly, of great concern to business both within the UK and in our trading partners. Many commentators have pointed out that the UK already trades with many partners outside the Single Market under World Trade Organisation rules, but businesses counter that tariffs will make our exports uncompetitive and stifle trade with our European neighbours.

Of particular concern is the timing of the payment of the tariffs themselves. One likely consequence is a rapid expansion in bonded goods warehousing, so that goods can be imported in economic quantities and held with duty suspended until a shipment is requested.

However, exports do not originate at the ports, but in manufacturing centres across the country. How should we develop a national infrastructure to facilitate exports, whilst mitigating the effect of tariffs?

Export finance is known to be an extremely manual process and has been proposed as one of the key targets for disruption using Distributed Ledger Technology. I suggest that the disruption should not start there, but with the clear intention to transform the effectiveness of the UK as a trading nation through investment in both digital and physical infrastructure.

One proposal envisages a network of inland strategic rail freight interchanges, acting as an “extended gate” to the deep water ports. These are large facilities, perhaps providing as much as eight million square feet of warehousing each, with good connections to both rail and the motorways. Several are already operational, including here in Northamptonshire at Daventry, and their expansion is supported by the UK’s Policy Statement on National Networks.


Logistics is often described as comprising three flows: of Goods, of Information, and of Funds. The key to maintaining competitiveness is to stay ahead in all three.

A blockchain implementation, providing settlement services, the security against double spending and carousel fraud, whilst guaranteeing provenance and the chain of custody for certified sustainable and Fairtrade goods, could be the operational backbone of such a physical network.

The efficiencies of greater transaction speed and of paperless transactions would be transcended by the unification of the network into a single, logical whole.

The benefit of engaging a diverse range of operators for each terminal in the network need not be compromised; each could bring their skills to bear and drive efficiencies through more traditional approaches to optimising the movement of goods.

Social value: doing good and doing well

This, my first blog, aims to invite discussion and, in good time, offer fresh insights into Social Value: its contribution to ‘good’ in society and, here’s the challenge, the creation of competitive advantage for business and mission fulfilment for public and third sector organisations. A modest ambition? It’s doable.

We know what business can do to enhance social value; things like giving employment opportunities to marginalised groups, supporting communities and carers and interventions to protect the environment. They can also help to eradicate modern slavery and ensure that they only contract with other organisations who themselves seek to develop social as well as financial value.

But how can the social impact of these contributions be measured and made to create competitive advantage? How can business and public/third sector organisations ‘do good’ and ‘do well’ financially?

Here’s the news. Social value, the impact it has on target populations, can be measured and by the application of existing tools and methodologies which are not costly to apply. If you can measure it you can put a value to it. You can then enhance that value (doing more good) and you can leverage that value (doing well or better financially).

Applying the Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012 public bodies can and do apply a weighting to ‘contribution to social value’ in awarding tenders. That weighting might be decisive in determining outcomes but is too often given scant consideration. Public bodies often content themselves with reviewing tendering company’s mission statements and, frankly, often spurious claims regarding their contribution to social value let alone its real social impact.

It does not have to be that way. We can measure social impact, well meaning public bodies can award tenders accordingly (often there is so little to choose between tenders), companies can learn how to measure and thus enhance social value and, consequently, improve their chances of success. They then gain competitive advantage, public bodies fulfil their mission, social impact s enhanced. As a meerkat might say: simple!

Colleagues and I are hoping to develop a robust, on line, course, externally recognised, which takes interested parties through the process of understand, measuring and utilising social value an social impact for competitive advantage. I keep telling myself that it’s a wholly worthwhile pursuit for this newly ‘retired’ business school Dean.

Going further, if we can measure social value, we can transact it using Blockchain. This will take social value out of the soft Social Innovation space and into the hard transactional space of Financial Innovation – allowing social value to be mainstreamed and not a bolt on.