We live in a Decentralised Digital Economy, in which everyone has the opportunity to be both a producer and consumer of digital goods and services.  Yet these marketplaces are underpinned by centralised digital platforms, with governance that is often opaque and operates in isolation of stakeholders. DECaDE is a five year research centre exploring how emerging data driven technologies such as Distributed Ledger Technology and Artificial Intelligence, could transform our digital economy through decentralised platforms.  Crucially, DECaDE is multi-disciplinary research centre – not just creating technologies, but understanding business drivers, the legal and regulatory landscape, and the impact of these emerging platforms on society and the future of work.  DECaDE is a collaboration between the Universities of Surrey, Edinburgh and the Digital Catapult.

DECaDE will focus initially (until the end of 2022) upon the Creative Industries, a key component of the UK economy and one where content creation and consumption are already shifting to a decentralised model.  DECaDE will explore how decentralised platforms can help us trace content provenance to fight fake news, as well as help creatives manage their rights, and trade content with producers and publishers.  DECaDE will explore what the future of work might look like in a creative industry enabled by decentralised platforms for content production, as well as novel commodification models for media and creativity, and new ways to handle personal information and identity across distributed platforms.

DECaDE has co-created four thematic project areas that it is now executing with its industry partners:

1. Decentralized registry for content attribution.

The project will leverage emerging industry standards for media provenance to develop a proof of concept decentralised service for tracing the provenance of media assets (such as images, video, audio).  Applications will include solutions to fight misinformation (e.g. trace the provenance of images encountered online) and to track content re-use.  The solution will enable provenance to be traced without recourse of implied trust to any particular organisation or content provider, using combination of distributed ledger, cryptographic and AI content fingerprinting techniques.

2. Decentralised trading floor for Content Ownership and Rights

A virtual content trading floor will be developed for asset discovery and exchange, focusing novel business models to create value from the exchange of content ownership and associated IP rights around content. The project will develop a proof of concept, decentralised platform for discovering and exchanging ownership and rights of digital assets.  The project will investigate the legal space around the rights and ownership of digital assets and tokenized representations of that content.  The project will investigate generalization of the idea of data trusts to creative assets, enabled by both the provenance of assets (Project 1)

3. Future of Work and Content Production

The project will explore possible futures for work and the gig economy within the creative industries mediated via decentralised platforms.  The project will explore how entities across all facets of the creative supply chain might collaborate in the future workplace, for example to commission and delivery on a production.  The project will explore discovery of talent for example advertisement and promotion of individuals via decentralised reputational systems, and novel ways to contract workers into a production including the leveraging location aware smart contracts.

4. Identity in the Decentralised Creative Economy

Identity within a decentralised platform underpins many key functions with a creative economy such as content ownership, IP rights assignment, provenance and origin of content, identity of workers.  Recourse to centralised points of authority within such platforms, such as government backed identity or third party identity providers, runs counter to the autonomy and independence offered by decentralised platforms.  The project will explore technical solutions in the space of self-sovereign identity to ground identity from the digital to physical without recourse to such authorities.  The project will explore usability and trust barriers to decentralised identity schemes, and legal issues around the regulation and governance of such systems.

In addition to these four thematic projects, DECaDE is engaging opportunistically via the business school in a number of agile projects focused in the supply chain space.  These involve frictionless trade across borders and innovative ways to bridge the digital-physical divide when tracking physical supply chains.

Our Mission

DECaDE’s mission is to create the tools and techniques that will shape the future digital economy model of work and value creation, ensuring a prosperous, safe and inclusive society for all. We will achieve this by accelerating research in DLT, AI, and Human Data Interaction, working with industry and end-users.


Developing insights that define a new model of work and value creation DECaDE will help ensure that the emerging decentralised digital economy profits all parties involved by developing insights that define a new model of work and value creation. Its research will focus on state-of-the-art AI and DLT tools to investigate how they can support decentralised applications and platforms in the digital economy, within a Responsible Innovation Framework.