The team’s search engine prototype ProScope was designed to help small and medium enterprises (SMEs) start research collaborations. “SMEs usually lack the academic connections to find researchers in the field they wish to explore,” explained Jonathan, on behalf of his team. “In addition, SMEs are usually deterred by the high transaction cost of starting a formal research collaboration due to their limited budget.”
“Furthermore, the growth of public research grants have been stagnating and researchers are becoming more dependent on corporate collaboration,” Jonathan added. “Hence, we created ProScope to overcome these challenges and change the way academic funding is raised.”
To develop their search engine, the team used a variety of data science techniques to filter and clean the dataset provided by the organisers. The team also designed a seamless management system within ProScope that helps facilitate contract agreements and transactions between both parties. After a user has defined their interested research topic or researcher, parties interested in the collaboration opportunity can submit their research proposals through the system. A digitally signed blockchain smart contract will be created automatically once an agreement between both parties have been reached.
By integrating blockchain technology into ProScope, the team was able to significantly reduce transaction costs as all funding transactions will be facilitated by blockchain – instead of a third party establishment. “The fact that we chose to not only solve the given task but to solve a real business problem gave us a competitive advantage. While other teams had brilliant ideas and utilised the latest technologies, our choice to focus on the business case instead of the technical aspect helped us stand out among the strong competition,” said Jonathan.