It all started with a few friends teaming up to compete at the Dutch Blockchain Hackathon 2017
Led by Maarten Velthuis, this multidisciplinary team took a shot at the Hackathon to innovate a governmental process with blockchain technology. The team won the first prize in the Reinventing Government track with a prototype platform that automates, verifies, and dispenses government grants and subsidies via digital tokens instead of actual money payments. Subsequently, this team quickly evolved into a partnership that automates bureaucratic processes for the Dutch government.
From Hackathon to implementation in society
The municipality Zuidhorn was impressed with the Hackathon prototype and immediately asked the winning team to help them to automate their government subsidies. Eager to start working for a good cause, part of the team established the Forus Foundation, which has been working together closely with the other teammates that were already working at Rocket Minds. Forus CTO Jamal Vleij explains that “the power of that [Rocket Minds] team” became clear during the hackathon, where “they were able to move from just a concept to a design, to a working demo – so actually from 0 to 100 – in 48 hours.”
Without a pause, Rocket Minds took part in Forus’ development team so they could start designing and developing together. Later that same year, end of 2017, the collaboration resulted in the first version of the Kindpakket, which facilitates a subsidy for children living in poverty in the municipality Zuidhorn. Since then, everyone entitled to the Kindpakket makes use of their welfare grant via a digital voucher system instead having to wait for government payments. This software solution proved to be an immediate success, and the following year it was rewarded with prizes at the Computable Awards 2018 and the VNG GemeentePioniers 2018.
Since then, the partners have not sat still yet. In 2018, the 2nd version of the Kindpakket was released as a modular version on the Forus Platform and can be used via the “Me” application. Vleij explains that with the Forus Platform “the financial compensation is improved,” through which a shopkeeper “receives his payments now faster than via a pin transaction.” In addition, “it is now much easier for new stores to join the kindpakket,” and other municipalities can now automate their subsidies through the Forus Platform.
After a reorganization of municipality Zuidhorn, the new municipality Westerkwartier was the first to make use of version 2 of the Kindpakket. Later in 2018, also the “Meedoen-regeling” of the municipality Nijmegen was automated via the Forus Platform.
Currently the partners are working to implement a request process for subsidies via the Forus Platform. “The way that we see it,” Vleij explains, “Forus will ultimately become one platform where you can get insight into the funds that you’re eligible for.” So “all kinds of subsidies and regulations,” also “sustainability regulations for sun panels or electric cars,” for example, can be distributed via the Forus Platform. First, they will be busy with the governmental market for a while. However, if their early success is any indication, we can only expect great things to come out of the Forus-Rocket Minds collaboration.