The Austrian government is throwing its weight behind a new blockchain research effort aimed at developing business applications of the technology.
The new Research Institute for Cryptoeconomy will be headquartered at the University of Vienna. On Dec. 5, a gathering of over 500 people met at the new research outfit, an event which included an appearance by Harald Mahrer, the Austrian Federal Minister of Science, Research and Economy.
Mahrer told the attendees:
"We are bringing together the expertise of the entire community, so that needs of our entrepreneurs can be incorporated into the agenda of the incoming administration. In Europe, Austria already has a leading role in the field of blockchain, having implemented an ambitious roadmap. Now we need to ensure that the next steps are taken and create sandboxes to promote real business applications. Otherwise the competitiveness of our business sector is impeded."
In statements, the ministry said that it would be supporting blockchain research projects through a €8 million research fund, an initiative that will also be invested research to enhance different kinds of digital services.
The public sector push follows interest from elements of Austria's private sector, including Wien Energie, one of its major energy suppliers. The government indicated that it would move to support regulatory reforms that enable uses of blockchain, including in energy applications such as peer-to-peer transfer.
"It [blockchain] offers enormous possibilities for new business ideas," Mahrer was quoted as saying. "Now it is essential to explore these possibilities without taboos in regulatory sandboxes."