Research and Consultancy

Blockchain projects


At local, regional and national levels we have seen widespread digitisation of services, but in many cases we have not significantly progressed from the deployment of electronic versions of paper processes. While governments, citizens and partners have long had the aim of developing transformative services, limitations in our ability to understand who is using services and how we can manage, integrate and re-use information have restricted our ability to develop the next generation of eGovernment services.

The BLING project will, by combining the expertise of knowledge institutions and the playingfield of municipalities and governmental organisations together with businesses and citizens, investigate what role Blockchain can be for governments.

BLING will leverage blockchain's enabling technologies to begin delivering the next generation of innovative services for citizens, communities and SMEs. BLING explores, enables and delivers blockchainbased services for governments.

BLING will:

  • deliver models for blockchain-enabled service development
  • identify what regulatory and policy barriers need to be addressed
  • provide a deeper understanding of the appropriate use-cases for blockchain-enabled services
  • security and safety in goods and services, consumer protection, privacy and data protection
  • create awareness through events, tools and services

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Blockchain4SME is a project approved by the Flemish Agency for Innovation and Entrepreneurship under the TETRA program. TETRA projects aim to translate recently available knowledge (new technology such as blockchain in this project, recently completed research or existing knowledge from another domain or sector) into concrete, useful information so that the target group (small and medium enterprises) can innovate faster.

The SME has experienced and endured the first internet revolutions (web 1.0 and web 2.0). The SME has learned about the internet from EDI (Electronic Data Interchange), B2B and B2C. The SME knows that it can connect its database to other databases, but that this is not so simple or practical in practice. However, there is also a problem with immediate availability of data. Data is constantly changing. The business processes of the SME are not simple and require a lot of processing of data. Automating, improving and making this processing faster is a major challenge.

The main aim of the research is to pass on the knowledge of blockchain technology to Flemish SMEs so that they can further digitize, improve, renew, secure and provide data privacy to their business processes. Flanders has about 300,000 SMEs. These companies are very important to the Flemish economy. SMEs must be able to use the new technology.

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Nyala Blue – Transparency by tracing stories

With Nyala Blue, we are helping to normalize, communicate and ultimately valorize sustainability initiatives and the cradle to cradle principle. What if you could simply take your smartphone, scan a QR code on the coffee packaging, and follow the entire cycle of your coffee: from primary raw material to coffee and from coffee grounds to new product? Thus, with one click on their smartphone, consumers find out who made their coffee, who they are, and even how much they earned. 

To solve the problem of transparency, Nyala Blue is building a platform that relies on blockchain technology. We work with the farmer, trader, roaster and residual processor to make the whole coffee chain transparent, and inform the consumer. Trust is crucial in e-commerce or Direct Trade. The Blockchain can address this by providing certainty about who the counterparty is or how the product came to be. From this automatically flows a shorter chain.

Many smaller coffee roasters and coffee bars have a passion for their work. They have good contacts with the farmer, pay a fair price, deliver quality, .... However, they do not have a label such as organic, fair trade. They do more. First of all, let's communicate this to the consumer. By communicating to the consumer, companies automatically adjust their process (environmental, ethical, cost-oriented to life cycle). Matches can be made between demanders and suppliers of materials. Matches that are not obvious in the first place. In this case, consider growing oyster mushrooms from coffee grounds. After a few harvests, the substrate is composted. On the compost obtained, microgreens can be grown, such as radishes and watercress. Through transparency and the matching of demanders and suppliers, we bring parties together, thus creating clusters and subsystems. Residual flows and products are valorized.

With Nyala Blue we offer a technological platform for companies to trace the goods. To the consumer we offer an app / website. This app, based on data, tells a simple story.

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Blockchain4Prosumers - BC4P

The project name Blockchain4Prosumers - BC4P links two core elements: On the one hand the “Blockchain” technology and on the other hand “Prosumer”. The blockchain makes it possible to make locally generated energy available via trading platforms or directly to other consumers and users. One of the most media-effective potential applications of the Blockchain in the energy industry is the so-called Peer-2-Peer trade.

The concrete results of Blockchain4Prosumers will be: 

  • Development of concrete, innovative key blockchain technology for a secure innovative energy market using renewable energies;
  • Expanding market opportunities for blockchain and energy system transformation for SMEs in the Euregio;
  • Creation of new jobs in the craft trades (installation of equipment), IT, and energy sectors;
  • Strengthening the innovative power of start-ups in the EMR;
  • Accelerating and increasing the acceptance of energy system transformation in the EMR;
  • Strengthening of existing EMR knowledge infrastructures and development of new fields of knowledge;
  • Positioning as an innovation landscape in digitisation with simultaneous harmonisation and standardisation between the regions.

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AI: Artificial Intelligence in a professional environment


With the growth in IT infrastructure and increasing digitization, the volume and complexity of network traffic are increasing. An increase in the size of a computer network provides a larger attack surface. This makes it easier to penetrate such a network.

On the other hand, security experts are faced with an abundance of data. Moreover, cybersecurity is a dynamic field in which new strategies for attacking are continuously being developed.

An unprecedented attack is also called a "zero-day attack".

The main aim of the research is to apply techniques from artificial intelligence to the data of a computer network in a typical contemporary company of average size (SME) and to detect when an attack occurs.

Furthermore, the speed of such an application is tested from capturing data to performing analysis. The robustness against simple parts of the attack (eg Ddos, portsweep, ...) or complex shapes (Botnets, False content injection, ..) are tested. The main information that the AI system uses is also reported at the end.


In the AI4Cast project, Howest, Sirris, and VIL together want to investigate how the use of modern technologies such as blockchain, new data encryption methods, and Artificial Intelligence can contribute to sharing and analyzing data in order to achieve chain-wide, real-time and proactive supply chain prediction & planning.


The general aim of this project is to make the Flemish SME aware of the potential and to provide a foundation for the combination of AI and Robotic Process Automation (“software robots”).

This makes it relatively easy to have the repetitive and often blunt work of entering and processing data in a company, independently carried out by a program. This way, you can relieve employees, reduce the chance of errors, and increase efficiency.

DataMaturity4AgileSME (DM4ASME)

The digital revolution has continued unabated for years and has accelerated even further due to the Coronavirus. Organizations can continuously improve by embracing digital technology and implementing innovation. This will create added value for customers and employees. New technologies offer new opportunities for the business, both on a very concrete and fundamental level. Yet digital is not yet the new normal for many companies. 

Research by Agoria shows that SMEs provide some 70% of employment in the Belgian private sector. However, when it comes to digital innovation projects, they are underrepresented when you compare them to large companies and digital startups. Idea Consult states that SMEs often do not know where to start. They also hardly think about how organizations can organize themselves to be 'future proof', also with regard to the human capital within their company. However, it is precisely this human capital that is unique to each organization, making it an important source of competitive advantage. 

The best foundation for digitalization consists of two elements: data and people. Both form the DNA, a double helix & the basic structure, of a digital organization. HOWEST, Arteveldehogeschool and Agoria will work on an integrated guidance program that, from the start, appoints and supports the impact on people in combination with an in-company data & change training. The partnership is precisely grafted on the intersection between innovation, working and learning. Together we teach employees and management how to deal with data and at the same time we take their questions, fears and uncertainties into account by highlighting the human aspect of the transition. The result of this coaching program will lead to a data-driven & agile organization and data-literate & change-ready employees. This will lay the foundation for further digital transformation projects (and in particular artificial intelligence) in SMEs.

Cyber Security: security in a digital environment

ICI4 (living lab project)

This testing ground will be a central point of contact for the Flemish industry for all matters relating to cybersecurity.

The companies are introduced to the various aspects of securing an industrial installation by means of a physical demonstration set-up. They see these innovative systems and the potential to evaluate their specific situation.

Attention is paid to existing regulations and standards with regard to industrial installations as well as to the implementation of security measures.

Existing security best practices are supplemented with our own applied research to provide answers to the specific questions of the Flemish industry.

The objectives of this living lab project are threefold:

  • Translating the existing regulations concerning industrial network and information systems, in particular the new NIS directive, into concrete and practical applicable action points tailored to Belgian companies.
  • Explain and evaluate technical security measures using the test facility. Extensive attention is also paid to the impact on performance, robustness, and possible consequences for safety.
  • Demonstrate innovative network monitoring techniques within industrial networks by integration within the test facility. Where traditional detection systems use fixed rules, innovative systems offer the possibility to detect and report any deviant and potentially dangerous behavior through the use of machine learning.

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Preparing enterprises and their employees to implement and use Cybersecurity.

  • Partner: Skilliant 
  • Partner: Portilog

A lot of technical courses are developed in relation to cybersecurity. But if you don't have an IT background, it's almost impossible to start. However, cyberattacks happen in small corners and nobody is free from them. That's why Howest, Skilliant and Portilog are joining forces to make companies fully cyber-proof. We want every employee to acquire the right competencies regarding cybersecurity and data protection. In a first phase (this can still change) the business world is divided into 12 profiles[1] of employees, who are vulnerable and for whom the necessary awareness/training does not currently exist. For these 12 profiles, training courses have been developed, each consisting of different topics.

Not every company has these 12 profiles in-house. At the start of the training a CS maturity scan and an intake interview are held. In the first place, there is a check via an (existing) maturity scan of how cyber-proof the company is. This is a scan on data type, data sensitivity and a scan on data security (both technical security through systems and knowledge gaps among employees). But we go a step further. An intake to the type of company is very important. A small company will need different modules/topics than a medium-sized company. One company has a lot of knowledge and is a more attractive company for hackers than a company with no secret information. In other words, it is necessary to get a feel for how a company works. You can only get to know a company if there is a thorough intake. This will be done using questionnaires. Do the employees have the right knowledge adapted to their level?

Smart city projects: getting started with data


Vital Cities investigates to what extent the physical and social environment consciously and unconsciously incites people to an accessible way of moving.

The research group of Applied Informatics investigates which technologies are relevant for data capture, which data can be transformed into relevant information and how it can be effectively visualized.

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Innovative web platforms


With Sharing Logistics, VIL will apply the principle of sharing economy via a virtual platform to the logistics B2B market. The aim is to develop a system whereby companies can use each other's unused assets and services without profit-making. In other words, the rental price of a certain asset/service cannot exceed the cost incurred. The intention is that the landlord can reduce part of the costs of standstill/vacancy.

The focus of this VIL project is to achieve an efficient, finished web platform to enable the participating companies to contact each other in a clear and fast manner and to effect a transaction. All this without much hassle and paperless with attention to the legal and insurance aspect of the case.

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Roeselare Volunteers is an open, autonomous platform that stimulates and supports cooperation in Roeselare. 

Roeselare volunteers:

  • supports citizens to show, develop, and share their interests and talents.
  • supports organizations in the search for human capital.

The platform was developed by Howest.

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Krachtnet is committed to developing a digital toolbox that supports informal and formal care providers in making an inventory of the (active and dormant) social network of the elderly and in working with their qualities and talents. In addition to the toolbox itself, accompanying manuals, instructional videos, and training are being developed (target groups: IT companies, care providers, managers, students in training ...).

As a result of this project, we will come to a Proof of Concept that will be made available to IT companies that focus on care and welfare.

Krachtnet builds on earlier research into deploying internal and external forces to combat social isolation and loneliness.

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Erasmus+ Project brandY

Since September 2020 Business Management and Applied Computer Sciences at Howest are involved in a new international project. The project is financed by the Erasmus Plus Strategic Partnerships program called "Experiential education. Interactive / Intensive course of European Brand Management (brandY)".

The main objective is to design, implement and test an innovative tool for teaching through experience. This tool will serve to educate students in the field of Marketing. This will increase their employability. By combining interdisciplinary expertise and experience, project partners will develop materials for a modern and fully interactive training program in the field of international brand management during the project, including:

  1. an e-book containing innovative materials and teaching tools, as well as ready-made procedures for their implementation;
  2. textbooks, both for students and lecturers;
  3. an Internet platform in the form of an interactive game that will allow access to the developed materials.

The project's beneficiaries are students, as the knowledge and skills acquired during the course will increase their employability. Lecturers, who will be able to implement ready-made solutions in their lessons related to Brand Management, also benefit. And organisations interested in hiring experts in International Brand Management can as well benefit from this.

The project provides for the organisation of 7 international meetings of representatives of the consortium for this Project in various European countries, as well as 4 intensive programs for students and teachers. The project is an opportunity to establish interdisciplinary cooperation with international experts in such fields as Marketing, International Brand Management, new technologies and gamification.

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