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Wednesday 6th November 2019

Isaac Newton Institute

United Kingdom


Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) and its numerous potential applications has gained increasing attention in recent years. The UK showed early interest in the technology and through strong research effort is now recognised as a global player. Following rapid changes in the sector worldwide in the last few years, other countries including China, Denmark, Japan, Switzerland and the USA have also made significant impacts.
Beyond cryptocurrencies (such as Bitcoin), DLT has value in applications which require chains of provenance, attestation of data and decentralised trust for IoT devices for instance. According to a report by the UK’s Digital Catapult, it is envisioned that the commercial model most likely to succeed in the short term is permissioned, rather than permissionless blockchain. This is where ledgers are hosted between known groups of participants and visibility, access and editing rights to shared data are regulated. Some key areas highlighted as being particularly promising include supply chain traceability, smart contracts (software programmes executing across distributed networks) and Govtech (Government data that must be secure but needs to be shared with and accessible by others).
The mathematical sciences have a key role to play in helping to realise the potential of DLT and move the technology forward.  The mathematics that underpins distributed ledgers is not trivial: not only does the technology rely on cryptography, but robustness and security of the protocol relies on the mathematical behaviour of the system.  Moreover, new functionality such as smart contracts are realised through cutting-edge advances in cryptography, and the need to develop alternatives to energy-expensive proof-of-work calls on careful mathematical engineering.

Aims and Objectives

This workshop is a collaboration with GCHQ, the Digital Catapult and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council ( EPSRC). In recognition of the potential and possibilities of DLT as a technology for both Government and the UK as a whole, it aims to support appropriate use cases and promote research into scalable DLT. This is set against the backdrop that DLT has sometimes been mooted as a solution to technical problems, where it isn’t appropriate and there is a need to separate the reality from the hype in order to better understand what the technology can really do. It will also serve to bring together stakeholders (research and end users) from multiple communities, to help connect people and build closer links and collaborations to strengthen the community. 

There is a recognised need to explore appropriate applications beyond crypto currencies and a key feature of the day will be to highlight a number of use cases across various research areas and applications. A mixture of talks and discussion will be split across three sessions to include:

  • An overview – current situation, a national perspective and Digital Catapult use case partnerships
  • Research areas and applications – archives of digital public records, foundations of distributed ledgers, human centred design, DLT in central banks
  • Challenges and future opportunities – legal/standards framework and general data protection regulations implications, UK Government perspective, vision and framework for the future

The day will finish with a shared presentation from key stakeholders, including GCHQ, the UK Government and the Digital Catapult. This will aim to explore mechanisms and initiatives to bring about a greater funding commitment and structured research agenda for DLT in the future. This will then feed in to the facilitated Panel Discussion, where delegates will have the opportunity to table questions and share thinking.

A provisional programme will be available soon.


We are really keen to hear about use cases and research into DLT and having a poster exhibition is a good opportunity to share this type of knowledge. Therefore we strongly encourage delegates to register their interest in displaying a poster. The exhibition will run alongside the workshop and during the drinks reception. If you would like to submit a poster please indicate this under 'additional information' on the registration form.

Registration and Venue

There is no fee to attend this event. To register please follow the registration link in the left hand panel.

The workshop will take place at the Isaac Newton Institute for Mathematical Sciences in Cambridge. Please see the Isaac Newton Institute website for further information about the venue.

In collaboration with