The European Commission has announced the selection of 20 projects for the inaugural cohort of the European Blockchain Sandbox. It reviewed almost 90 applications for the first batch.
The chosen projects span various sectors, from finance to transportation. There are also cross-sector initiatives among selected participants.
The projects have been divided among five European regions. There will be 14 use cases in Western Europe, 10 in Southern Europe and eight in Nordics, Central Europe and Eastern Europe.
The sandbox supports a dialogue between regulators, crypto projects and public authorities. It provides legal guidance and regulatory support to use case developers. A consortium led by Bird & Bird and its consulting arm OXYGY initiated the project. Warren Brandeis (formerly known as WBNoDE) and web designers from Spindox also offer their expertise in the project.
The regulatory sandbox aligns with other frameworks, such as the EU Digital Finance Platform and the forthcoming Artificial Intelligence Sandboxes. It acknowledges the growing convergence of innovative technologies across multiple sectors. By integrating these initiatives, the European Commission seeks to identify best practices and share lessons learned among regulators.
“The sandbox will allow supervisors to enhance their knowledge of cutting-edge technologies involving DLT [distributed ledger technology],” reads an EBS statement.
The application deadline for the first cohort closed on April 14. It focused on blockchain projects with valid proof-of-concept and cross-border elements. The initiative plans to foster ongoing innovation and regulatory collaboration.
During the selection process, the EBS received an overwhelming response from the blockchain community within Europe and internationally. The project team acknowledged the keen interest demonstrated by the high number of applicants. It emphasizes the importance of building bridges between regulators and use case owners across sectors and borders.
Among the selected use cases for the first cohort, one specific use case of the European Blockchain Services Infrastructure has been approved to participate in the lot for public entities. As a result, 19 use cases were chosen through a meticulously curated selection process.
Blockchain experts from Warren Brandeis led the selection process and were overseen by a panel of esteemed independent academics, including Roman Beck from the IT University of Copenhagen and Soulla Louca from the University of Nicosia in Cyprus. Participants can access the selection criteria on the project’s website.
The announcement also noted that eligible use cases not selected might be placed on a waitlist. The organizer encouraged these applicants to re-apply for the second and third cohorts, scheduled for early 2024 and early 2025.
Moving forward, the sandbox team will start dialogues in a secure and confidential environment. It allows the selected projects to engage with relevant national and EU regulators.
These dialogues will provide an opportunity for use case developers to present their business cases. Developers can also receive legal guidance from regulators, according to an EBS blog post. The insights gained from these dialogues can contribute to the publication of a best practices report. The commission says it will benefit the broader blockchain community.
The EBS, funded by the Digital Europe Programme, seeks to establish a pan-European regulatory framework that enhances legal certainty for innovative blockchain solutions.
From 2023 to 2026, the sandbox will support 20 projects annually, including public sector use cases on the EBS infrastructure. Additionally, the most innovative regulator participating in the sandbox each year will receive an award.
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