Wicklow’s ServBlock teams up with Microsoft to bring NFTs to pharma

27 Oct 2022

ServBlock co-founder and CEO John Ward. Image: ServBlock

Founded last year, ServBlock aims to automate the complex process of pharma compliance using blockchain technology.

ServBlock, an Irish start-up on a mission to build a blockchain future for biotech, is collaborating with Microsoft to develop a novel business case for the use of NFTs in pharmaceutical compliance.

Founded last year, ServBlock uses blockchain-based auditing and compliance to help pharma manufacturers guarantee quality across their supply chain.

The collaboration with Microsoft’s Early Access Engineering programme will help the start-up look at bringing non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, into the pharma space.

Pharmaceutical compliance is a complex process involving manual checking of data and tasks, which requires detailed attention and passing numerous levels of scrutiny multiple times.

Wicklow-headquartered ServBlock aims to automate this process using blockchain technology to make it more secure, timely and cost-efficient. The automation also aims to help eliminate fraud and counterfeits in the pharma supply chain, as well as reduce human error.

John Ward, the Wicklow-native who founded ServBlock with his two brothers, said that implementing new technologies to improve compliance standards is “a core pillar” of what ServBlock does.

“To have Microsoft on board gives further validation to the work we have been doing since founding the company and blockchain as a powerful business tool,” said Ward, who is the start-up’s chief executive.

“NFTs have gained recognition and popularity for their use in selling art and a new internet culture, but we are glad to be starting the adoption of real-world use within an enterprise setting.”

Ward came up with the idea for ServBlock while consulting for a large multinational back in March 2020.

“While executing a manual paper-based task at a supplier’s facility in Sweden, we got a call from the large multinational client to down tools and get home immediately. Ireland was going into lockdown,” he told SiliconRepublic.com earlier this year.

“It was at this moment I realised that this paper-based task could be executed digitally without flying halfway around the globe.”

ServBlock said the collaboration with Microsoft presents the first use case of NFTs within a pharmaceutical setting, uncovering potential for use in a variety of other areas that rely heavily on secure and transparent ownership of assets.

“NFTs are one of the most exciting concepts to emerge from blockchain technology, and have grown to be hugely significant,” said Peter Lougheed, small, medium and corporate sales lead at Microsoft Ireland.

“We are excited to collaborate with ServBlock in developing their technology to better enable the pharmaceutical industry to meet their, often very complex, compliance standards.”

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic