Episode #11

ubloquity today announced it has signed an exclusive three-year partnership agreement with Fujitsu UK & Ireland to underpin its smart border solution – Atamai Freight – with ubloquity’s enterprise blockchain technology.

The contract comes on the eve of the ubloquity’s first anniversary, during which time it has quadrupled in size, built a provenance chain of custody platform for a multinational food manufacturer, and won several prestigious awards for innovation and technology. 

Rob Chester, ubloquity’s CEO is delighted we are partnering with Fujitsu to underpin its smart borders solution. He believes the future of global trade will be digital, and it will be carried on distributed ledger technology. 

He describes how a consortium led approach has enabled Fujitsu and its partners to move faster than would otherwise have been possible. 

For example, from the outset, leading logistics provider, Manfreight has been an instrumental part of the consortium. Its team immediately recognised Atamai Freight’s potential to transform the entire supply chain through the safe, secure, and seamless flow of goods. 

Manfreight has pioneered the smart seal technology provided by b4b, benefiting its customers through end-to-end visibility and integrity across each consignment delivery.

Rob reflects on the first 12 months of ubloquity and is excited by the future. He outlines how  the team are building blockchains across the entire value chain – and how our vision now is to begin to federate them together. 


Dom Burch, Rob Chester

Dom Burch  00:09

Welcome back to the ubloquity podcast with me Dom Burch. This is the podcast where we get to speak to inspirational leaders and founders, of course of blockchain companies. And I’m absolutely delighted this week to welcome back to the podcast, Rob Chester, who of course, is the chief executive of ubloquity. Rob, welcome back to the podcast.

Rob Chester  00:29

Thanks, Dom. Great to be here, don’t know about the inspirational bit, but I’m gonna do my best.

Dom Burch  00:33

Well, listen, it’s a it’s a celebratory day, isn’t it? We’re on the eve of our first anniversary. And we’re actually celebrating some exciting news today.

Rob Chester  00:40

Yeah, it is. It’s, it’s been quite a year. We’re announcing today that we’ve signed our three year exclusive deal to be Fujitsu’s smart border blockchain provider. So it’s a tremendously exciting day for us to be supporting an amazing brand like Fujitsu with with work of this nature is just something that most startups could only dream off Dom. So yeah, I’m excited and smiling from ear to ear today in terms of the progress we’ve made over the last year,

Dom Burch  01:07

And you must be really proud of the ubloquity team. It’s been a real team effort, hasn’t it to get us to this point?

Rob Chester  01:13

It has. And it’s very different when you’re doing this in a startup, it’s it’s often the case, I think that people just underestimate how hard that is to build a new team from scratch in a new business. And so yeah, I’m absolutely delighted for the team and the effort they’ve put in and the commitment they’ve put in to be getting to this place within a year of starting up. It really does feel like we are, we’ve made some tremendous progress. One of our investors was saying to us last week that the biggest compliment you can pay a startup is that you’re not like a startup anymore, that you’re much more like an established business. And that’s how we feel it feels like we’ve come an awful long way in a very short period of time.

Dom Burch  01:52

So let’s talk a little bit about Atamai Freight, which, you know, we’re celebrating our involvement with. It’s a real different approach, isn’t it from Fujitsu, a Fujitsu-led Consortium. So a group of companies each bringing something different to the table, whether that’s b4b, who are managing the smart seals. Entopy, who are collecting that data and then turning it into a digital twin, or the likes of Manfreight, who are, you know, really innovative logistics company, who are actually putting these things on real trucks and watching them in real time pick up product and deliver that product securely to their customers?

Rob Chester  02:29

Yeah, I mean, it’s a very different business model Dom, and it is not one that I’ve really come across in many other industries so far. When you put the bits together, you’ve just got a much more compelling much better offer for customers than you would have if it was just one single business trying to do their own thing. So yeah, it was very much Fujitsu’s sort of leadership and vision of how this could be done, that’s led to where we are today. But absolutely, without the other partners in the consortium, it can’t work. And without an awful lot of goodwill, it can’t work. And yeah, I think Manfreight has been the secret sauce around this, because to actually have commercial operators that are willing to give up their time that attention and really invest in new technology is, is absolutely priceless. When you’re trying to you’re trying to innovate, you know, you’re trying to come up with new solutions that are very different to what’s out there already. If you can get customers involved in that, even though they have to invest and they have to invest time and money and effort, then it does make a massive difference to how quickly you can get solutions to market. 

Dom Burch  03:37

And it’s been great, hasn’t it working alongside someone like Manfreight, who are big investors in their people, but also in technology seeking to you know, drive innovation into their, into their sector, I guess. They’ll have seen that benefit, won’t they as a as a logistics provider, but I guess the thing that they care most passionately about is ensuring that their customers have visibility of the product that’s in transit. But also with the smart seal. That customer now also has absolute assurance that it’s held securely, it hasn’t been tampered with. And they can see it every single step of the way, which helps them become more efficient at the other end.

Rob Chester  04:14

Yeah, I think you summarised that really well, I think distributed ledger technology is still at the early adopter stage. That’s where it is. And therefore the parties you want to be working with are people that are willing to invest to innovate, because that’s not for everybody Dom. You know, there are businesses within sectors who don’t want to be at the leading edge of where technology’s going. They want a nice safe space where it’s all proven and it’s just all building out. Whereas No, that’s not been Manfreight’s approach. They’ve been very brave in terms of what they’ve done of getting involved really early, getting their hands dirty with the tech getting it on a truck, trying it, figuring it out from there, etc, etc. So yeah, it makes such a difference to be working with, with willing partners, and thankfully for us, and thankfully for them, there’s been real commercial benefit that’s come out of what we’ve done. So far, the customers that Manfreight are using this with at the moment are seeing as well as the the advantages of using the blockchain as to what we’re doing. They’re seeing actual, tangible financial improvements to their businesses. And that Dom is obviously is priceless. And what every business out there at the moment is searching for.

Dom Burch  05:25

So exciting times today, almost one year under our belts as it were. And in that short period of time, we’ve quadrupled in size in terms of people. But in addition to building out this foundational layer on on a border, we’re also building food provenance platforms. And I guess over time, all of these things might start to actually weave together,

Rob Chester  05:46

I did have a bit of a dream about this three, four or five years ago, where you could just see the blockchain was starting to play a role at different stages of the supply chain. ubloquity is going to have really good examples at different stages and good case studies at different stages. And over time, our belief is that will start to federate. And it will start to get into a picture of really blockchain enabled supply chains. Yeah, it’s a very exciting future. Because we’ve got real stories now Dom at those stages, you know, the work that we’re doing in with a major spice provider in their supply chains, the work that we’re doing on farm, together with the work we’re doing on borders, it’s starting to come together as a full supply chain solution.

Dom Burch  06:29

What are the things that are exciting you about the next 6-12 months in front of you?

Rob Chester  06:33

I think what I’m really looking forward to most is just continuing to build out these solutions at different stages of the supply chain. And as we do that we fundamentally believe that blockchain will move on from an early adopter phase to be much more of a mass market approach with wider adoption. And because we’ve been an early adopter, you know, we’ve, we’ve had all the pain and challenges that come with all of that, but I’m really looking forward to reaping the rewards that will come from more people being interested in using the technology. So yeah, it’s really exciting times ahead. Daunting, but at the same time, tremendously exciting and tremendously motivating.

Dom Burch  07:11

Brilliant. Well, listen, I’m sure you’ve got a to do list as long as both arms, so for the time being and Rob, thank you so much for coming on the podcast. And congratulations on the three year deal with Fujitsu 

Rob Chester  07:22

Exciting journey ahead.