AUTHENTICITY: New program to help combat fake art products
THE $200m annual trade in fake Australian indigenous art and design products has been dealt a major blow thanks to a world-first indigenous start-up backed by QUT and Laava ID.
IndigiLedger uses blockchain technology and next generation secure 'smart labels' to verify and authenticate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artworks, designs and souvenir products at the point of sale.
QUT has teamed up with IndigiLedger to support business development and research around the pilot use cases, such as Bundaberg-based Kalkadoon artists Chern'ee and Brooke Sutton whose products span original artwork to homewares and tourism souvenirs.
"I am honoured to be an IndigiLedger Ambassador and to be a part of this amazing opportunity to help stamp out fake Aboriginal art and souvenirs," Chern'ee said.
"It will change the way tourists and customers alike shop by being able to instantly authenticate if an artwork or souvenir is an authentic Aboriginal product. It is an incredible step forward in preserving our culture and history.
"IndigiLedger is technology enabling the story of our artwork and the ID's provide customers with confidence that the artwork is authentic."
The start-up is seeking further investment after securing support from Laava ID, Source Certain International and Gravitas Media to expand the platform.
Founder and Quandamooka man Adam Robinson created IndigiLedger to protect the authentic
Indigenous culture and knowledge of his people and other indigenous nations to ensure it thrived in a digitally connected retail landscape.
"This connects new technologies with the world's oldest living culture," Mr Robinson said. "People want to know that the art and design products they buy are authentic and this technology gives them that confidence.
"Our business model engages deeply with indigenous artists and their ways of knowing, being and doing in a culturally safe and appropriate manner regarding cultural expression."
QUT's Vice-President of Business Development Mark Harvey said IndigiLedger's positioning at the intersection of innovation, technology and real-world solutions for indigenous people made it an easy decision to support the start-up.
"QUT is dedicated to supporting Australian indigenous empowerment and we're proud to back an Indigenous-led company in the technology space." Prof. Harvey said.
Laava ID's joint CEO Gavin Ger said Laava's partnership with Indigiledger was a defining moment for both businesses.
"I was immediately impressed by Adam's technology vision and his passion for empowering Indigenous communities to take their cultural heritage into their own hands. This was a mission Laava was keen to back on many levels."
Laava's partners have enthusiastically joined in - including Gravitas Media with packaging design; and Source Certain International, with scientific provenance verification technology. The combination with Indigiledger creates an unparalleled level of integrated digital and physical brand protection, connected packaging and digital storytelling - using next generation technologies.
Mr Robinson said this year's NAIDOC theme "Always was, always will be" had resonated with him as he conducted pilots with artists.
"These products are an expression of culture and knowledge that always was authentic to our people. It is my mission that IndigiLedger ensures they always will be."