Governments have historically been generally reluctant when it came to the support of blockchain-related initiatives. With some notable exceptions, like Estonia’s e-residency program, most such attempts have been put under wraps under initial testing.
This, however, is not the case for Shivom, a project that seeks to use blockchain technology for creating a global hub of genetic data. In their recent blog post, the project’s team stated that it had garnered support from government officials from several jurisdictions.
“A number of influential officials such as former Prime Minister of Estonia, Taavi Rõivas, [the member of the European Parliament] Antanas Guoga, and top-notch scientists have joined the Shivom Innovation Council to help guide the company’s growth and development efforts,” the post reads.
Commenting on the joining, Dr. Axel Schumacher, Shivom’s co-founder and CEO, stated:
“We’re absolutely delighted to be welcoming a person of Taavi Rõivas’s experience to Shivom and believe he will play an important role in helping us to develop the world’s foremost genomic data-hub to power personalized healthcare. He was at the forefront of Estonia’s genetic biobank project that allowed citizens to control and manage their data to access personalized healthcare and this experience will be invaluable to us as the Shivom project progresses.”
According to him, the project seeks to tackle the most difficult issues found in the area of genomic studies and data collection.
“The current healthcare space is fraught with major problems such as data silos, lack of diversity, lack of interoperability, little privacy and widespread data breaches, which makes effective healthcare and precision medicine challenging,” he told TechBullion. “The Shivom ecosystem plans to solve the healthcare challenges by offering an open blockchain-based genomics database alongside a web-marketplace and innovation hub, which will allow providers and third-party vendors to add and market customized apps and precision medicine services.”
Shivom claims its purpose is in becoming “the world’s largest genomic data hub” and that it is going to “revolutionize the storage and analysis of DNA data and employ it for guiding and improving precision medicine and biotechnology R&D.”
“The project is one of the most anticipated blockchain projects of the near future, and with the ability for users to control their genomic data using advanced encryptions, provision of incentives to volunteers who donate data for medical research, and the ability to use services and apps in a decentralized marketplace, it is set to revolutionize not just the course of genomics but also global healthcare as a whole,” the blog post continues.
Notably, the project has also partnered with the government of the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. As part of their cooperation, the state’s population of nearly 60 million people will undergo genetic sequencing, and the data will be stored on Shivom’s blockchain facilities.
The company has also struck a deal with Genetic Technologies Limited for the development of predictive genetic tests and the use of accredited laboratories.
According to the Shivom team, those agreements will come into force once their token sale, which is currently drawing to a close, is over. For now, in order to incentivize users to participate in it, the company has initiated a referral program.
This, of course, isn’t the first time when a government has embraced a solution offered by a privately-owned blockchain startup. Estonia’s e-residency program mentioned above, for instance, is backed by the solution developed by blockchain company BitNation. There have also been some attempts to put land cadaster on blockchain in some Eastern European countries a few years ago.
However, Shivom’s case seems to be one of the biggest events in the history of the not-so-happy relationship between blockchain startups and the world’s governments. Of course, only time can tell whether it will ever come to fruition, or more governments embrace the technological promise of the blockchain. However, this might be a clear signal to the wider community that the era of hostility between blockchain and government officials is gradually coming to a mutually beneficial end.
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