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US government grants $749k to Evernym to develop blockchain key management system

Evernym, a technology startup based in Salt Lake City, has received a $749,000 Small Business Innovation Program (SBIR) award from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T).

According to the official release, the startup has been given the award to develop a decentralized mechanism for managing public and private keys needed for the secure and scalable deployment of blockchain technologies. Under the SBIR Phase II contract, Evernym will design and implement a decentralized key management system (DKMS) for blockchain technologies.

The research project is being managed by the S&T Cyber Security Division’s (CSD) Identity Management project.

Evernym is developing a DKMS to boost online authentication and verification through a project titled “Applicability of Blockchain Technology to Privacy Respecting Identity Management”, the release said. Within the system, the initial “root-of-trust” for all participants is a distributed ledger that supports a decentralized identifier—a new form of root identity record.

“Managing public and private cryptographic keys in existing public key infrastructure as well as permissioned and permission-less blockchains continues to be a difficult challenge,” said S&T Identity Management Program Manager Anil John. “Through this project, Evernym will push the limits of the emerging decentralized key management system technology to deliver a high level of comfort to the public and American businesses as they integrate blockchain technologies into their technology portfolio.”

Started in 2004, the DHS S&T SBIR Program is a competitive contract awards program that aims to further the participation of innovative and creative U.S. small businesses in federal research and development initiatives and to increase private sector commercialization of SBIR-funded solutions. Last June, DHS announced a total of $3.1 million in competitive research awards for 29 small businesses, with each business awarded roughly $100k in preliminary funding through SBIR program.

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