The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s research and development wing, the Science & Technology (S&T) Directorate, on Friday awarded $817,712 in total to five blockchain startups in a bid to reimagine the federal government’s anti-forgery and counterfeit prevention operations.

From creating digital Social Security Number alternatives to building e-commerce tracing systems, the winners have up to six months to develop blockchain proofs-of-concepts for DHS’ client agencies. S&T’s Silicon Valley Innovation Program (SVIP), essentially an equity-free tech accelerator within S&T, is funding the round.

  • Spherity GmbH received $145,000 to develop a “digital twin” record of inbound e-commerce packages. The German company’s system would share critical information among parties without compromising privacy, SVIP said. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is the client.
  • New Zealand-based MATTR LIMITED will build U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services a digitally issued essential worker license using its $200,000 prize. S&T officials said COVID-19’s work shutdowns have proven the need for distributed, verifiable digital credentialing systems that get essential staff back to work.
  • Mesur.IO will retrofit its Earthstream environmental analytics platform for CBP’s food-tracing efforts. With $193,612, the North Carolina firm plans to identify and track toxins, pathogens and other undesirables across the supply chain.
  • SVIP veteran SecureKey Technologies has now won an additional $193,000 to create a digital alternative to the Social Security Number that gives its holder full informational control. DHS is already under departmental order to phase out the highly insecure SSN, and Toronto-based SecureKey could play a part in that.
  • Mavennet Systems, also an SVIP regular, this time won $86,100 to digitally trace natural gas shipments between the U.S. and Canada, its home country. CBP said it aims to use Mavennet’s Neoflow platform to give regulators a better look inside cross border gas exchanges in accordance with the USMCA trade agreement.
  • S&T said it chose the five winners from 80 applicants who competed for funding following the directorate’s June industry day.