No Coin and Idea Coin to encourage knowledge flow and innovation?

I guess it’s to do with my personality: I love many old things, old books, old buildings etc. Take music for an example, I love Chinese classic music and old folk songs and Beetles for western music. My wife used to joke that I am actually 70 years old (I am only 45 this year!). Fashion of course has nothing to do with me: I barely know any fashion brands. Many Chinese consumer have a love affair with the ABCD brands in the UK. I only know B represents Burberry (have I got the spelling right?) but not the rest. So when a hot topic such as Blockchain reached my ears, as usual I am quite suspicious. I am suspicious because of a seemingly too rosy picture it offers (or potentials suggested by the experts): it represents a world of real democracy, open but free from disruptions such as hacker attacks.


Suspicions aside, it is also useful to think about what Blockchain can offer in different fields so that old people like me wont’ be accused of blocking technological development. Well, has Blockchain anything to do with academic researchers like me who are interested in international business and innovation? The answer is perhaps likely to be ‘yes’.


One of the areas that I am interested in is knowledge transfer in a cross-cultural context. I have been following a case of Chinese acquisition in the UK for a few years. One of the biggest hurdles to knowledge transfer between the British subsidiary and the Chinese parent firm is indeed cultural difference between the two sides: British employees are willing to express their views and feelings even to their superiors whilst the Chinese employees are not. Blockchain, as a type of distributed ledger without a central administrator, may therefore facilitate knowledge transfer in this context so that, for example, the Chinese will be freer to express their views and ideas. Perhaps, we can indeed develop a NO coin to encourage the Chinese to speak out different views or to say no to unreasonable orders from managers. We may also come up with an IDEA coin to encourage new ideas from employees in order to facilitate knowledge exchange and innovation.

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.

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

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.

Student Coin

Student Coin aims to empower students, through applying social values of the students with the financial value of the currency. With a core belief of “by the students, for the students”, keeping the interests of the students as the focus.

Offering collective empowerment to connect and centralise the group, to give the power back to the students and to allow a greater influence from the student group.
Ultimately helping students with their financial situation, using discounts and loyalty rewards.
Helping students overcome issues such as: managing their money, keeping track of spending, cost of living, overseas transaction fees whilst leveraging their spending power,