In brief

  • IBM has revealed a Rapid Supplier Connect blockchain network in the wake of COVID-19.
  • The network connects buyers and suppliers of essential medical supplies.
  • It’s free for companies to use in the US and Canada through August 31.

In an effort to help with recovery efforts in the wake of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, IBM has launched the Rapid Supplier Connect blockchain network.

IBM Rapid Supplier Connect was built to bring together buyers and suppliers of medical equipment and supplies, especially as more and more manufacturers pivot towards creating essential supplies to help overcome shortages during the recovery.

The blockchain-based network is designed to help speed up the process of vetting and onboarding new suppliers, plus it can track excess inventory and help determine where it could best be utilized. IBM is offering free access to Rapid Supplier Connect through August 31 for companies in the United States and Canada.

Northwell Health, New York’s largest health system with more than 800 hospitals and care centers, has joined the initiative, while The Worldwide Supply Chain Federation is bringing in more than 200 suppliers from North America.

"Northwell Health has had adequate supplies to protect patients and our staff during the increase in New York COVID-19 patient cases," said Phyllis McCready, Northwell Health VP and chief procurement officer, in a release. “It is through creating our own GPOs and supply chain and joining forces with non-traditional suppliers that we have maintained an adequate stockpile of PPE and other equipment and supplies, so we are pleased to join IBM Rapid Supplier Connect."

IBM Rapid Supplier Connect has been created in collaboration with several other companies and their respective products. Trust Your Supplier’s blockchain-based identity platform from Chainyard is at the heart of the network, alongside IBM’s own Supply Chain and Sterling Inventory Visibility services. Additional functionality is provided by Project N95, Dun & Bradstreet, RapidRatings, KYC SiteScan, and Thomson Reuters.

IBM is already deeply invested in blockchain technology, offering enterprise services for companies large and small and backing the open-source Hyperledger Fabric blockchain from The Linux Foundation.

IBM’s Food Trust program is one of its most notable blockchain offerings, as the supply chain program allows companies to track the route of produce, meat, and other food products from farm to customer. Companies such as Wal-Mart, Dole Food Company, Nestlé, and Albertsons are amongst the 170+ participants in the IBM Food Trust blockchain initiative.