Building blocks for tech evolution
A deal between manufacturing business Best Bar and tech hopeful Buildsort serves to highlight recent activity in Perth’s blockchain space.
The market’s enthusiasm for blockchain during the past year, largely in terms of cryptocurrency investments, has retreated for now, but four recent announcements by Perth businesses indicate the technology is still underpinning innovation.
South Fremantle-based Buildsort is developing a platform to improve information sharing in the construction industry, hoping to monetise data for engineers while simplifying life for subcontractors.
In late September, Buildsort signed its first user to the platform, East Rockingham-based steel reinforcement provider Best Bar.
Buildsort founder Chris Dorian told Business News there were few incentives for engineers to release information beyond what might be needed for a building permit, meaning greater risk for suppliers, who would need to recreate data based on drawings.
“In construction there’s a lot of disjointedness between all of the players involved,” Mr Dorian said.
“We want to take that data and sell it to material suppliers … they have a lot of risk in the building industry.”
He said Buildsort was negotiating a further four partnerships with materials suppliers, and a multinational construction business, with the intention the platform would be ready in six months.
Best Bar general manager Australia Gavin Futcher said the manufacturer wanted to be on the leading edge of technology.
“A blockchain-powered construction data marketplace, that makes a lot of sense,” he said.
Mr Futcher told Business News a significant amount of time was wasted communicating with building outfits in order to get through to the designers.
“The people that need to supply (data) ... they’re not always getting paid for all the information they supply,” Mr Futcher said.
“I feel it’s a great opportunity to have architects, engineers and builders working a lot more closely with each other on one platform where we all can hook in.”
Best Bar has developed its own software for supply chain assurance, Mr Futcher said, which it planned to link with the Buildsort platform.
Blockchain is best known for its use in electronic cryptocurrencies, mediums of exchange that are secured through encryption and tracked on a ledger distributed across multiple nodes.
Hundreds of currencies have been created, many of which funded technology initiatives, and draw their value from anticipated demand for an underlying asset.
Market capitalisation among the top 100 cryptocurrencies has dropped more than 70 per cent after peaking at $US834 billion in January this year, according to website Coinmarketcap.
Not all blockchain innovations have associated cryptocurrencies, however.
Buildsort had previously considered creating a token and undertaking an initial coin offering (ICO) to raise cash but decided against it because it would lead to a poorer user experience, and instead the company will stick to a more conventional $1.5 million equity raising.
Australia’s biggest ICO was Perth-based Power Ledger, which raised $US34 million in 2017.
Power Ledger, which offers a platform for households and businesses to trade electricity produced from decentralised generators such as rooftop solar panels, signed a deal in late August to trial its technology with a renewable energy business in Thailand.
The three-year trial will be in an urban precinct in Bangkok, with potential deployment at other sites in the longer term.
A third agreement in recent months was between local cloud server provider DC Two, its subsidiary D-Coin, and a company backed by energy entrepreneur Ben Tan, Hadouken, to build a cryptocurrency mining operation near Collie.
The term ‘mining’ refers to using computers to undertake the complicated mathematical operations required to confirm and secure transactions made using cryptocurrencies, a notoriously energy-intensive process.
Business News reported in April that Hadouken had received development approval to build a $16 million solar farm and cryptocurrency mining operation.
The project secured a win in September when DC Two was granted $200,000 from the state government to build the data centre under a program designed to promote new industries in Collie.
It is planned that stage one of the solar farm and data centre will be online in early 2019, with four megawatts of power, backed up by existing nearby coal mines.
DC Two estimated in August that the project would generate revenue of about $6 million annually.
Blockchain consultancy DigitalX announced in September that it had brought an investor, ASX-listed First Growth Funds, onboard for an ICO platform it is jointly building with partners.
DigitalX holds a 34 per cent stake in the platform, FutureICO.