Blockchain concept for aviation supply chain nets €3,000 at hackathon

25 Jan 2018

Fiona McCabe, IDA Ireland. Image: Luke Maxwell

Terrific trio Gurpreet Singh, Nicola Paoli and Pawan Toshniwal wowed judges at a hackathon building blockchain-based solutions for the aviation industry.

Last weekend (19 and 20 January), Dublin Business School played host to a Comtrade hackathon in which 14 teams got together to develop new ideas and concepts to disrupt the aviation industry with blockchain.

With a prize pool of €3,000 on offer, a cross-functional jury of industry experts and leaders declared programmer Gurpreet Singh, blockchain developer Nicola Paoli and business analyst Pawan Toshniwal as the winners for Air Token, a pitch to use blockchain in supply chain and maintenance.

The winning trio had apt experience on their side, Toshniwal being a business founder already with Organo Farming and Singh being a former cadet pilot. Together, they proposed that, with a tight connection to the internet of things, the aviation industry could make a trustworthy audit trail of parts and maintenance work, which is important to aircraft owners.

Second place was awarded to a proposal for a next-generation loyalty solution, while the third-place winners proposed a P2P blockchain platform that would enable a second-hand market for reselling plane tickets.

The event was also attended by aviation industry leaders and entrepreneurs with a keen interest in all things blockchain, alongside representatives from Comtrade Digital Services. Happy with the hackathon turnout, Dejan Ćušić, business director for Ireland and the UK at Comtrade Digital Services, noted that the judges evaluated the projects based on feasibility, investment needs, and the quality of both the team and their final pitch.

Speaking to right before the teams got to work for the weekend, Marko Javornik, vice-president and general manager of mobility and travel at Comtrade Digital, was looking forward to the creative ideas to come from the “young, bright, enthusiastic minds”.

A selection of short presentations preceded the hackathon, featuring, among others, Fiona McCabe from IDA Ireland. Blockchain is certainly popular among the international financial services clients McCabe works with, but she noted that features enabled by blockchain – such as traceability, auditability and the ability to manage high-value assets – are readily applicable in aviation.

What excites technology consultant Tony Winters about blockchain is how it can act as a catalyst for social change, unlocking new markets. For the aviation industry, he proposed how this could be applied to its collective commitment to reducing carbon emissions.

“If we were to create a blockchain-enabled carbon credit marketplace, we could do things that are quite revolutionary. We could have, for example, your solar panels on your roof paying for your flights on your holidays,” Winters suggested. “If we can do stuff like that we can create new markets that the aviation industry didn’t even know existed and create new customers that would not usually have taken flights.”

Summing up the newfound eagerness of industries to start tinkering with this technology, Comtrade Digital Services blockchain expert Klemen Koželj said: ”I think that by now the world has realised that distributed systems can work and they can be applied in almost every industry, but I think in the future we should be focused on scalability and effectiveness of the distributed systems, and this could truly enable [the] machine-to-machine economy.”

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.