Cambridge-based start-up Nyriad has joined forces with Spark New Zealand's cloud service provider Revera to pilot a programme for Kiwi organisations to manage sensitive data using blockchain technology.

"We have partnered exclusively in New Zealand with Revera to drive adoption of next-generation 'real-time' secure and auditable data storage solutions for use in New Zealand government and industry sectors," Nyriad chief executive Matthew Simmons told BusinessDesk. Nyriad was founded three years ago as the first commercial spin-out of the Square Kilometre Array, a large multi-radio telescope project.

Blockchain is a digital ledger of transactions where each transaction - or block - is permanently recorded. They cannot be deleted and they are added through cryptography, ensuring they remain secure. Its security, efficiency and speed made it attractive to the public sector, in particular given its potential to simplify the management of confidential information.

"Nyriad's solutions have been designed from the ground up to meet the explosive demands of modern data growth. Our customers deal with petabytes and exabytes, not megabytes. Our technology means it is now possible to achieve the security and resilience offered by blockchains at dramatically higher performance and lower cost while also real-time, making it practical for general purpose data storage," Simmons said.

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Revera chief executive Robin Cockayne told BusinessDesk the pilot programme is open to any organisation, government or non-government.

The pilot will provide organisations with access to Nyriad's real-time blockchain software platform delivered from Revera's All-of-Government-certified Homeland Cloud.

While the government is not driving the initiative it is being consulted throughout its development and activity, he said. Revera's major customers include government agencies, public healthcare providers and corporates.

According to Cockayne, organisations face growing risks as they deliver more data-rich services. While encryption had largely closed the door on criminal activity such as identity fraud and manipulation, blockchain technology made breaches from within or without the system all but impossible.

Nyriad's Simmons said his company's real-time blockchain storage technology was the first platform in the world that enabled public organisations to prove they were handling information in a way that satisfied strict security standards and facilitated real-time data sharing, openness, and collaboration.

The real-time blockchain pilot programme is a world first and Revera is the first customer to adopt the solution for a cloud service, he said.

The two companies have been engaged in proof of concept projects since 2016 "to demonstrate the benefits of the architecture for secure data storage, which has been very well received," said Simmons.

Revera's Cockayne said the biggest obstacle "as with any paradigm shift in tech capability is the market's ability to embrace and adopt it safely. Old-fashioned process, compliance measures and all the history gone before form habits and a way of thinking and its paradigm shifts that challenge those," he said.

The programme has the challenge of providing the education, resources, experience and capability to help the market with this shift, he said.

The two companies are now "moving to now bring real-life business scenarios into the programme to qualify, support and develop into viable services," he said and "as with every 'new' wave, interest is always strong."