Research focus: Dr Trevor Clohessy, BiOrbic – TechCentral.ie

Bringing blockchain technology to the dynamic economy

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Dr. Trevor Clohessy


Dr. Trevor Clohessy has been a Lecturer in Business Information Systems and Transformational Technologies at ATU Galway School of Business since September 2018. Dr. Clohessy is also an academic collaborator with BiOrbic, the national bioeconomics research center of Science Foundation Ireland, and a member of the Blockchain Ireland working groups for Education, Innovation, Skills and Startups. In this interview, he talks about Industry 4.0, Ireland’s adoption of the blockchain, and why collaboration is essential.

Tell us about your academic career so far?

Over the past ten years, my research and teaching have focused on the concept of digital transformation. She completed her PhD at the National University of Galway in Ireland in association with SFI Software Research Centre, Lero. My PhD research focused on the impact of cloud computing technologies on supply chains, and examined how cloud computing has affected business models for organizations that provide and provide customers with cloud technologies.

My research in cloud computing has provided me with a basic understanding of how new technologies affect organizational supply chains, and this has led me to study how other technologies affect supply chains. One of the technologies that caught my eye was called blockchain technology, which I started researching in 2015. At that time not much was known about blockchain technologies, and they were mostly related to the cryptocurrency Bitcoin.

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In 2018, I transferred to the Galway Mayo Institute of Technology, which is now the Atlantic Technological University (ATU) in Galway. Over the past four years here at ATU, we have been developing blockchain courses along with conducting blockchain research in the areas of digital transformation, Industry 4.0, agricultural technology and marine industry. She has worked extensively with organizations to help them adopt blockchain technologies and also with the Blockchain Ireland Working Group on Education, Skills and Innovation to define a strategy to promote blockchain awareness and education.

The project you are working on is titled “Blockchain Industry 4.0 Applications for Supply Chain”. What role will blockchain play in Industry 4.0?

Supply chains create a natural set of business use cases for blockchain technologies. Industry 4.0 will create many opportunities to deploy blockchain technologies as part of the technology stack. I think the word ‘technology stack’ is important because blockchain is a power technology when used in harmony with other emerging technologies like AI, IoT, automation/robots, augmented reality, etc. Blockchain is currently used for product/component/assembly identification which facilitates source authentication and improved product recalls. For example, a study was conducted that examined how blockchain could be used by the pharmaceutical industry to track and trace medicines. Blockchain will also enhance the security of data and information shared across supply chains using advanced cryptographic methods.

Blockchain also enables real-time data sharing along supply chains that can make supply chains more resilient in the face of the global supply chain disruptions we’ve seen due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. However, we are only in the embryonic stages to determine how and where it can be deployed in Industry 4.0 and bioeconomy settings.

BiOrbic gives researchers access to a thriving research community and opportunities to collaborate with key stakeholders in the bioeconomy. What is the significance of this aspect of the project?

According to my colleague Professor Graham Heislip, the collaborative aspect of the project is essential. He says that collaboration allows for the sharing of ideas; It facilitates working with highly skilled researchers from different backgrounds which leads to better results. It allows the project team to be more productive and more aware of each other’s views, needs, and schedules.

From my own perspective, I totally agree with Graham’s feelings. Being able to collaborate with a think tank like BiOrbic, which embodies a national collaboration of more than 100 researchers, to explore how blockchain can help the bio-economy is truly an exciting prospect. I also really look forward to exploring how I can add value to their portfolio of groundbreaking research projects.

You worked on one of the first Irish blockchain regulatory readiness reports in 2018. How well has Ireland adapted to blockchain in the years since?

I think a lot has been done in the past four years in terms of promoting awareness and education to develop knowledge about what blockchain technologies can do, however, I think a lot can be done. For example, the latest CHAISE Blockchain Skills Report states that “Blockchain is now internationally accepted as an emerging technology and skill set. This is reflected in the European Commission’s blockchain strategy.”

Since the technology is still evolving from the concept stage to the application stage, its impact on the job market is still relatively limited. As blockchain technology matures, we will see more and more courses being developed here in Ireland to meet this demand in the technical and business skills needed to equip the labor market with the skills they need to develop blockchain products and services.

Moreover, I believe we will see enhanced adoption of blockchain technology as part of a technology suite that will integrate other emerging technologies such as cloud computing, Internet of things, artificial intelligence, business intelligence, etc. Coherently integrating all of these technologies in use will provide individuals, companies, and public sector organizations with many new value propositions.

One of the last aspects that will accelerate the adoption of blockchain technology here in Ireland is the separation of technology from cryptocurrencies. Blockchain technologies were originally used to secure the cryptocurrency Bitcoin, however, the technology has many use cases that can be deployed across Industry 4.0 supply chain setups. I look forward to collaborating with BiOrbic researchers to explore how blockchain technologies can be used in Industry 4.0 settings to help develop a vibrant, sustainable and circular economy.

For more information on Dr. Trevor Clohessy, visit his website https://trevorclohessy.wordpress.com/ or join him on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/treabhairc/

Read more: BiOrbic Blockchain Industry 4.0 Science Foundation Ireland SFI



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