Innovation clusters are physical regions in which interconnected firms and/or other representatives are actively involved in related ‘cutting-edge’ activities, in a dense network of social and business relationships.[i]
Clusters of academic institutions, high-tech companies, local and regional governments endorse the transfer of knowledge, ideas and expertise between participants, spiking innovation rates when compared with partnerships outside of clusters. Familiar examples of innovation clusters are Silicon Valley for semiconductor and computing technology, and Hollywood for the movies industry.
In a speech at Dream Works Animation, President Barrack Obama recognized Hollywood as one America’s economic engines, citing the cluster of companies the generations have grown up knowing, emphasizing the USA as the best place for creativity, and making movies, television, and music.[ii]
Policymakers are constantly searching for ways to create the next Hollywood or Silicon Valley, because of the critical link between tech innovation, social and economic development.
And on creating bigger impacts Digital Currency technology has emerged as a new and rapidly expanding field, in which Bitcoin is its first implementation, in the world of money. International firms are engaging and actively participating in building global ecosystem of cryptocurrencies and promoting the development of Bitcoin and Blockchain technologies as a means of improving payment and settlement efficiency.
The innovation behind cryptocurrencies will trigger the emergence of digital currency and blockchain innovation clusters even bigger than Hollywood scale, as the scope of innovation and level of disruption is much higher. The Netherlands has an opportunity to initiate the development by taking steps to create the right conditions for such a cluster to emerge.
Its application is not limited to money and finance, firms and innovation labs are discovering more of applicable blockchain use cases in Healthcare, Music, Notarial Services, Governance, and Public Services.[iii] So certainly more innovation to take place in the proximate future.
Capitalizing on the emerging alternative applications of Digital Currency technology, the Netherlands can create a unique cluster of universities, hacker spaces, start-ups, policy makers, and experts to avoid a serious risk of lagging behind and allowing an exceptional digital currency innovation cluster to develop someplace else.
Rather than to engage in all domains that the Digital Currency innovation may disrupt, the Netherlands can exploit its top position of the EHCI index ( Euro Health Consumer Index)[iv], to mix the Blockchain technology with the Healthcare Industry, creating a unique global Digital Currency/Healthcare innovation hub.
Globally, healthcare administrators are baffled with enormous challenges, from increasing demand, to shortage in skilled labor, and cut down budgets[v]. Blockchain technology with its capability to create a shared record of events that could be used to track and verify digital archives, such as patient data, prescriptions, x-ray photos, medical credentials, payments etc. It holds new opportunities,lowers costs drastically, and most of all provide consumer tailored care.
Entrepreneurs, Digital Currency experts, and start-ups are eager to go after the opportunities, and together with policy makers, academia, and health care institutions; key domains can be identified – were Digital Currency innovation enables efficient improvements in Healthcare sector, especially with all the offences and manipulation in the industry, such as the recently uncovered fraud of Theranos firm[vi].
Start-ups like Prescrypt, GEM, and Tieron are using the blockchain to, stop fraudulent scientific research, secure data sharing and collection, enable patient access to his own data, and many more applications.
Hence relaxing the regulatory barriers to Digital Currency technology in the Netherlands would attract more startups, researchers and labs that want to innovate in the Blockchain/Healthcare space.
The freedom to create new technologies without having to ask for permission, empowers entrepreneurs to take advantage of the difference between opportunities in different regions, where innovation in healthcare explorations is restricted in one region, allowed in another, or completely legal in another. The Netherlands then can lead the region by identifying and involving key participants in the cluster formation, and developing accordingly a joint vision to drive a successful initiative. It can create an aligned legal framework to implement and accept blockchain technology as a legal foundation, parallel to existing processes and procedures.
A clear vision with related and relaxed regulation in the alternative applications for Digital Currency technology will aid the Netherlands with its proactive approach to accelerate innovation, and take a leading European and global position in the Healthcare Industry.