TNO approved as Sovrin Steward

Co-responsibility on signed attestations for self-sovereign identity and decentralized trust • 13 Feb 2018

TNO got this week approved as one of the 20 Sovrin Stewards worldwide and is now co-responsible for the integrity of the Sovrin blockchain network. Sovrin is a blockchain network that focusses on signed attestations for self-sovereign identity and decentralized trust. Attestations may be signed by e.g. a bank, municipality or chamber of commerce. Citizens and businesses provide and use attestations to replace their current cumbersome equivalents, like sending scans of documents by e-mail or sending a few cents to validate a bank account number. Being a Sovrin Steward includes the running of a Sovrin network node in the TNO Blockchain Lab, checking the integrity of the software running on that node, participating in the community governance process of Sovrin, as well as providing access to users. TNO aims to make use of the principles, community and technology of the Sovrin Foundation in projects in the various sectors it is active in.

The Sovrin blockchain network does not register or process personal information on a blockchain, but uses blockchain to keep track of the identities of the signers, as well as revocations of attestations. Examples of attestations are “I am older than 18”, “I have a valid driver’s license” and “my bank account number is 123456”.

Trusted online interactions

“Establishing trusted online interactions is vital to many of the sectors we are working in, such as e-government, financial services, healthcare” said TNO representative Pieter Verhagen, business development manager of TNO’s Information and Communication Technology research unit. “The Sovrin technology is key to facilitating this trust and we are eager to be an early participant in its development and progress. Sovrin provides a world leading blockchain-based identity infrastructure, that is expected to be used in many Dutch self-sovereign identity experiments and pilots TNO is involved in.”

“It’s difficult to be more excited about a steward than we are about TNO,” said Dr. Phil Windley, chairman of the Sovrin Foundation. “TNO boasts a distinguished nine-decade history as an independent entity promoting scientific innovation in a part of the world with a rich and long history of ground-breaking discovery. Independence and innovation are also two of the guiding principles of the Sovrin Foundation.”

Experiments in blockchain ecosystems

TNO is currently involved in experiments with  self-sovereign identity on blockchain together with partners from the Techruption Blokchain program, the Dutch Blockchain Coalition, and Blockchain in Education project ‘Studybits’.

The Techruption Blockchain Project is a Dutch national public-private partnership project, within which large and small companies, startups and scientific institutions collectively create disruptive technological innovations using blockchain technologies. The project is both a research project and a field lab working closely with the commercial participants on cutting edge business issues they face which may be addressed by using Blockchain technology. In the Techruption program, a Self Sovereign Identity Framework has been created, which is now being applied for registering independent contractors (ZZP’ers) at the Chamber of Commerce, or applying for medical aids.

The Dutch Blockchain Coalition is a public-private partnership which goal it is to create favorable conditions for reliable blockchain applications that are accepted by society at large. The Dutch Blockchain Coalition was founded by a group of government agencies, knowledge institutes, universities as well as for-profit organizations operating in sectors such as energy, logistics and the finance industry. As such the coalition represents a wide variety of relevant sectors.

The partners of the coalition consider blockchain as an innovative, potentially disruptive technology that can create trust, build prosperity and enhance security for individuals, corporations, institutions and for society at large. The coalition works from the premise of tackling cross-sectoral challenges together and to build solutions jointly which is firmly rooted in the concept of blockchain.

In the North of the Netherlands, a fieldlab for Blockchain in Education is being set up. The first project of this fieldlab – StudyBits – experiments with Self Sovereign Student Identity on the Sovrin blockchain.


Drs. Maarten Lörtzer

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