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WATCH > Advance Award Winner Leanne Kemp shares her experience at an Advance.org roundtable.


In a fast paced discussion, QLD Chief Entrepreneur and Everledger CEO, Leanne Kemp, shared her experience and perspective on the role and possibility of blockchain technologies, and the opportunity for Australia to create and dominate specific new markets. 

Advance.org Chair, Yasmin Allen, introduced Leanne noting her background as the winner of the Advance 2018 Technology Award, along with numerous other awards, and her role as a sought-after advisor to national and global institutions (including the UN, World Economic Forum and OECD) on blockchain policy and regulations. 

Leanne noted the critical distinction between invention and innovation, and the evolution of blockchain from an emerging technology, to an applied suite of protocols that are driving innovation across multiple industries.

Complex Supply Chains

Supply chains today are global in nature along multiple dimensions – from the many stakeholders and geographies for inputs, to the empowerment of consumers to seek products from anywhere in the world. The current pandemic has exposed the importance of traceability of goods and inputs, decentralisation of decision-making, as well as better transparency to pre-empt bottlenecks and challenges in supply chains. 

Leanne emphasised the growth of the circular economy, where one company’s waste can become an input for another company’s supply chain. By digitising the specifications around a product, its packaging and formulas, blockchain can help companies to create a digital thread between brands, their suppliers, consumers and the waste products discarded along the way. While brands and manufacturers don’t necessarily ask for blockchain solutions, Leanne noted that they are looking for new and better ways of collaborating with each other. 

Making it tangible

The general population is already being introduced to blockchain protocols – even if they don’t realise it. The transfer of digital currency and real-time settlement in the finance industry has been in the market now for 8 years. Leanne also shared examples of Tiffany and Co and Alexander McQueen embedding blockchain technology to prove the provenance of their source materials. Citing the continued mission of World Wide Web inventor, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, to create a distributed internet, Leanne shared her expectation that a World Wide Ledger will soon underpin all digital and physical trade. She predicted that most people will be interacting with distributed forms of data in the next 5 years, with the technology maturing by 2030. 

Aussie blockchain pioneers

Australian companies, such as Power Ledger, BeefLedger, EverLedger, as well as the ASX with its groundbreaking project in the financial markets, are already leading the development of blockchain applications. With the growing emphasis on advanced manufacturing and sovereign capability-building in Australia, blockchain protocols will be necessary to optimise supply chains and consolidate multiple collaboration technologies. Leanne made a plea for the natural resources and talent of Australia to be harnessed with blockchain applications to make Australia a leader in next generation manufacturing. She highlighted opportunities around rare earth metals, reuse of battery materials, tyres, and as a result of Covid19, creating a system of global health ‘passports’ to enable travel bubbles for the movement of people.

Sustainability

Leanne also noted the importance of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals in her work, and is calling for the SDGs to move from guiding principles, to become activated standards. To do this, a data taxonomy is needed to outline “what” needs to be measured and the target benchmarks. Leanne noted the mission of the Future of Sustainable Data Alliance to improve investor decision-making through collaboration on reliable and actionable ESG data and related technologies. Bolstered by the backing of major investors like BlackRock, there is increased demand for a common language and protocols to help verify the authenticity of claims. 

Regulatory progress and interoperability

Roundtable participants were particularly interested to learn more about the regulatory landscape for blockchain, a topic that Leanne Kemp has particularly deep insight, and foresight. Concepts of chain of custody, and proving provenance were covered, together with the complicated notion of anonymity in blockchain. Leanne noted the acceleration of blockchain applications in developing economies, adding that open sourced technologies together with education is critical in order to protect consumers. Interoperability is a key challenge even for corporate customers of blockchain technologies, to overcome the ‘technology moats’ being created by major IT companies. 

Opportunities for market-making in Australia

Leanne shared areas of leadership, as well as challenges for Australia’s innovation system. While clever experimentation by various teams in different levels of government has created positive outcomes, Australia is held back by our inability to transition quickly to new business models; our reliance on export and commodity-driven industries; and the continued dominance of traditional, rather than digital new economy firms.

The current pandemic has made two trends clear: 

  1. Trade must be more digitally-enabled
  2. Trust mechanisms must be better enabled across the internet and global trade

As a geographically detached country with a relatively small population and closed borders, the movement of trade is critical for Australia. Leanne highlighted opportunities to leverage the ‘tyranny of distance’ and the significant reduction in global trade. These include: 

  1. Advanced manufacturing / micro factories
  2. Digital Twin technologies
  3. Circular economy, including through ‘right to repair’ legislation and urban mining
  4. Value adding in extractive industries, such as rare earths and magnet metals for the electric vehicle supply chain

The global audience of 40 roundtable participants hailed from Australia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Singapore, and the USA. Leanne invigorated the guests with a sense of urgency around these opportunities. It will require commitment and a quantum leap for Australia to think in terms of value chains rather than supply chains. 


About our speaker

Leanne Kemp is Founder and CEO of Everledger and Queensland Chief Entrepreneur. She is a prominent figure in the technology sector and recognised internationally as an innovator and leader. Everledger uses blockchain technology to track high-value assets such as diamonds, art and wine with the aim of increasing transparency and trust with technology. Leanne is the 2018 Advance Technology Innovation Award Winner. In 2018, her entrepreneurial success saw her appointed as the Queensland Chief Entrepreneur in Australia, to develop the state’s startup ecosystem, attract investment and support job creation. She is the first woman entrepreneur to hold this position. Leanne works on a global scale to encourage entrepreneurship and innovation and is an advocate of sustainability in business and is a graduate of the Harvard Business School, Global Leadership Program.

Current positions

  • CEO and Founder, Everledger
  • Queensland Chief Entrepreneur
  • Co-Chair, Global Future Council on the Future of Manufacturing, World Economic Forum
  • Member, Global Future Council on Blockchain, Circular Economy and Global Battery Alliance with the World Economic Forum
  • Board of Stewards for Accelerating Sustainable Production, World Economic Forum 
  • Regional Ambassador of Australia, Global Blockchain Business Council
  • Co-Chair, Sustainable Trade Action Group, World Trade Board
  • Advisor, IBM Blockchain Platform Board of Advisors
  • Adjunct Professor at the Institute for Future Environment, Queensland University of Technology

Awards

  • Advancing Identification Matter (AIM) Global Allan Gilligan Award 2019
  • Advance Technology Innovation Award 2018 
  • Innovator of the Year 2018 (Women in IT Awards, London)
  • Innovator of the Year 2016 (Women in IT Awards, London)
  • Top 26 Coolest Women in UK Tech, 2016 (Business Insider)
  • Top 30 Female Innovators (Brummell Magazine)

Further information

  • What are Blockchain Protocols and How Do they Work? > More
  • EverLedger works with Local Government QLD > More
  • 6 ways blockchain is changing luxury > More  
  • Status of “right to repair” legislation >  More 
  • Australia’s blockchain roadmap: Progressing towards a blockchain-empowered future > More 
  • One Small Step for the Web | by Tim Berners-Lee > More 
  • Imagining the forest of World Wide Ledger from the Blockchain Trees > More
  • Future of Sustainable Data Alliance > More 
  • Urban mining: Hidden riches in our cities > More

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