The Frankfurt School Blockchain Center (FSBC) at the Frankfurt School of Finance & Management gGmbH (FS) is a think tank, and research center which investigates implications of blockchain technology for start-ups/SMEs as well as companies and their business models. Amongst others, FSBC's competences and digital innovation activities are the following:
- Research on blockchain: FSBC analyzes current developments with respect to blockchain technology and investigates the economic implications for companies and their stakeholders and as a Digital Innovation Hub (DIH) also provides new research impulses. Further, FSBC assesses the interconnection of blockchain technology to other innovative technologies, such as Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI).
- Education and trainings: FSBC serves as a regional Digital Innovation Hub for managers, start-ups/SMEs, researchers, technology and industry experts to provide eductation and share knowledge and best practices. As part of one of the best-ranked European business schools, the Frankfurt School of Finance & Management, education is provided to students, but also for companies, researchers and other interested parties. Recently, FSBC has developed an online video learning platform, Blockchain Academy, for young people, entrepreneurs and young professionals to built knowledge about blockchain technology and crypto assets.
- Community, events and networking: FSBC hosts various events on a regular basis for participants across all knowledge levels, such as the Crypto Assets Conference (CAC), one of the landmark crypto and blockchain conferences in Germany. Besides, FSBC is part of various blockchain associations and crypto think tanks, such as the German Blockchain Association (Bundesblock), the European Union Blockchain Observatory and INATBA.
- Consulting, prototypes and incubation: FSBC is supporting and cooperating with startups on
blockchain- and DLT-related topics. Amongst others, FSBC develops DLT-based prototypes, e.g., in the field of mobility and finance (see section "service examples"). Thus, FSBC has already experience in testing blockchain/DLT applications and evaluating various DLT use cases across different industries. Furthermore, FSBC is attending numerous meetups across the globe and connected with many startups and major industry players.
Due to Frankfurt School's status as (one of Europe's best-ranked) a private university, FSBC acts as an academic institution under the non-profit regime. The Hub focuses on blockchain-based initiatives for digitising various industrial settings such as banking, mobility, “Industrie 4.0” and the energy sector. Further, FSBC aims to support start-ups and SMEs with blockchain-based IT expertise.
FSBC is headed by Prof. Dr. Philipp Sandner. The expertise of Prof. Sandner in particular includes blockchain technology and its application in various industries but also concerns digitization, entrepreneurship and innovation management. Further, his core topics are corporate entrepreneurship, digital transformation, fintech startups and intellectual property rights. He was awarded with several scholarships and research prizes:
- “Top 30” in the economists ranking of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ)
- "Top 40 under 40"; ranking of the German business magazine Capital
Prof. Sandner has published in international peer-reviewed journals such as Research Policy, the Journal of Marketing Research and the Journal of Business Venturing. Prof. Sandner is also working group member of the EU Blockchain Observatory and Forum and of the FinTechRat (FinTech Council) of the German Federal Ministry of Finance.
Link to national or regional initiatives for digitising industry
The Frankfurt School Blockchain Center (FSBC) is part of several regional, national and European initiatives for digitising industry. Currently, the FSBC is engaged in two research projects funded and supervised by the German Ministry of Education and Research ("iBlockchain" & "KOSMoS") and in two research projects funded by the European Commission within the Horizon 2020 program ("Blockchers" & "Blockpool").
European initiatives for digitising industry
1. Within the Blockchers project funded by the European Commission within the Horizon 2020 program, FSBC reaches for facilitating the revolution of distributed ledger technologies across European SMEs. Blockchers has received funding from the European Union‘s Horizon 2020 research and innovation framework funding program. This project aims at supporting traditional SMEs with the implementation of DLT in collaboration with innovative startups / SMEs, which receive up to EUR 50k and additional services. The match-making between traditional and innovative SMEs fosters collaboration and innovation in various sectors across European countries. The Frankfurt School Blockchain Center will assist with policy recommendations for the current regulatory framework in order to facilitate the adoption of DLT by SMEs in the EU. The duration of the project is two years.
2. Blockpool is a project funded by the European Commission within the Horizon 2020 program and aims to increase the uptake of Blockchain and DLT technologies across SMEs in the EU. The 25 most promising applications receive funding as well as mentoring support over a 10 months period. The ultimate goal is to help the SMEs develop their idea beyond the proof of concept to a minimum viable product stage.
National and regional initiatives for digitising industry
1. “Industrial Blockchain” (iBlockchain) is a project funded by the German Ministry of Education and Research. Started in October 2018, the aim of this project is to foster “smart factories” and autonomous production by creating decentralized structures via blockchain technology. FSBC will assist with economic principles beyond DLT and analyses of use cases with focus on the Industry 4.0 sector.
2. Kollaborative Smart Contracting Plattform für digitale Wertschöpfungsnetze” (KOSMoS) is a project funded by the Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF). This project aims at building a smart contract platform leading to efficient cooperation across companies. The platform allows for investigating novel use cases in the manufacturing industry, such as i) the transparent maintenance and ii) dynamic leasing of machines as well as iii) a simple proof of product based on DLT. FSBC will design cross company business models based on blockchain technology and assist with developing the smart contract platform.
3. Furthermore, FSBC is strongly involved into the regional ecosystem and supported by public funding. By providing blockchain workshops to major banks in Germany, advising startups as well as the German government, and providing societal implications of blockchain technologies, the hub positions itself as an important partner in the regional activities conducted by political, academic, economic, and societal institutions. This competitive advantage and our capabilities serve our clients and advance their innovative business and operating models as well as their products and services.
Finally, FSBC is fully-aligned to, and follows the principles of the RIS3 strategy. Aiming at exploiting the potentials of digitisation with a view to enhancing the quality of life and furthering the sustainable development of the State of Hesse, FSBC addresses not only the classical areas of political action, where the State can exercise direct influence, but also the areas of technology and applications, where the State of Hessen acts by providing incentives and support.
R3 Corda: Implementation of a prototype for promissory note loans and comparison of different DLT frameworks [German]
Client profile: Consulting company specializing in blockchain, banking and the finance industry.
Client needs: comparative analysis of innovative enterprise distributed ledger technologies, design of prototype, demonstration, feasibility analysis, forecasting.
Provided solution to meet the needs: This project provides a short analysis of R3's Corda platform as well as insights into the implementation of a prototype for a promissory note loan system. Further, the project discusses technological implications of the choice of R3 Corda as an open source platform compared to other existing Enterprise Distributed Ledger frameworks.
Development of e-mobility prototype based on the blockchain technology with INVERS
Client profile: Mobility services company that offers innovative SaaS and IoT-based as well as DLT-based products.
Client needs: prototype building, trend analysis, innovative idea development, technology support, demonstration.
Provided solution to meet the needs: Blockchain technology is seen as one of the enabling technologies in the shared mobility sector in the future. As mobility should prospectively not be determined by ownership, the Blockchain Center of Frankfurt School of Finance & Management collaborated with INVERS GmbH, a German company focused on the mobility of the future, to build a prototype of a future shared mobility service, which is purely based on blockchain technology. INVERS Shared Mobility OS, a suite of tools comprising of end-user apps, backend-software, and telematics for operators to run a shared mobility service, set the technological foundation to build the blockchain-based infrastructure. This proven and robust technology can streamline payment and insurance completion and therefore secure the reliability of the system as a whole. A test-version of the Decentralized App for scooter sharing based on the Ethereum Blockchain is already in testing version.
Blockchain-based invoicing of IoT-registered station stops: a proof of concept based on Ethereum [German]
Client profile: IT service provider of the Deutsche Bahn AG in the rail industry.
Client needs: Technology know-how, support of innovative ideas, proof-of-concept, showcase demonstration, deployment of crypto assets, feasibility analysis.
Provided solution to meet the needs: With the liberalisation of the market for rail transport, the number of market participants and the associated complexity for invoicing for the use of railway infrastructure has increased rapidly. This research project analysed how blockchain technology can be used with smart contracts to meet the requirements of a realistic deployment scenario in a liberalised railway industry. A proof of concept based on Ethereum is examined and discussed in more detail. This proof of concept was implemented internally at the IT service provider of Deutsche Bahn AG and is based on an automatic reporting of station stops by Internet of Things (IoT).