Ottawa, ON — Two Canadian companies will develop a proof of concept for a digital tracing system enabled by blockchain and artificial intelligence for the Canadian, and possibly North American, steel supply chain.
Peer Ledger Inc., based in Halifax, and Mavennet Systems Inc., based in Toronto, will each receive an investment of up to $150,000 through Innovative Solutions Canada, a Government of Canada program that invites Canadian small businesses to develop innovative solutions to address government challenges.
The funding will support research and development activities to build a prototype specific to the steel supply chain. If selected to continue to the program’s next stage, one of the two companies could receive up to $1 million over two years to refine its prototype.
“With this challenge, we’re looking for a tool to better trace the steel supply chain and provide information on product supply and demand, instant verification of origin, and quality of inputs and outputs,” said Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry. “By turning to Canadian innovators for their best ideas, we’re accessing quality products to solve some of our most pressing challenges while helping businesses grow and create good jobs.”
Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade added: “Innovative Solutions Canada is a fantastic program that uses government procurement to help small businesses innovate and then commercialize their innovations. Congratulations to these businesses. I can’t wait to see the innovative solutions they come up with.”
According to the Department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development (ISED), Steel products and inputs are not being comprehensively or securely traced with modern digital systems. Access to information related to the steel supply chain is also worsened by a lack of a standardized information-sharing mechanism which can result in delays in acquiring relevant data impacting government operations and steel business profitability. Currently there are no known applications of artificial intelligence analytics on Canadian steel sector information. Moreover, tools for trade and border activity are not optimizing tracing (blockchain) and AI technology in the steel sector.
The challenge is to develop a digital tool that would trace inputs and outputs in real time in the steel supply chain — up stream and down stream — using blockchain technology, and apply artificial intelligence enabled data analytics on this information, to better capture activities across the steel supply chain. ISED would directly benefit from such a technology as it would facilitate and enhance evidence-based policy making. Moreover, it could also be used by government to ease and digitize customs clearance procedures.
For industry, in particular downstream firms, it would offer product supply and demand predictions, instant verification of origin and quality of inputs and products (allowing for confirmation of responsible sourcing), reduced costs, increased efficiency and productivity, and predictive insights about inputs, use and demand metrics.