The Ethereum Foundation has announced the first grants to support dapps and smart contracts on the Ethereum blockchain. The grants, announced on an Ethereum blog, are designed to support developers with R&D, experience and education.
The foundation views the grants as a signal to the community of its need to find the missing pieces of the Ethereum ecosystem that need more support.
The foundation plans to increase its efforts to support the community to make Ethereum scalable, useful and secure. While the grant program was announced as a strictly scalability focused program two months ago, it decided to broaden the support to projects also addressing usefulness and security.
Teams that win a grant receive non-dilutive funding, technical advice, connections to more users and a platform to share their work on.
Why Funding Is Needed
Scalability, usefulness and security projects have no ICOs or token sales, but simply focus on building useful products and experiences.
Scalability can take the form of deploying sharding, plasma or state channels. It can also take the form of optimizing geth/parity or building alternate clients.
Usefulness takes the form of improving the developer experience or experimenting with new dapps that offer utility to the end user. Improving the developer experience can include static analyzers, linters, development frameworks, mobile SKDs, documentation or Solidity/Vyper development.
Security can take the form of auditing existing contracts to creating tools to eliminate error prone programming patterns to developing alternative second layer languages focusing on security.
New Focus: Design
The foundation is also starting to engage the design community to address product and UX design problems. Areas in need of improvement for mainstream adoption include key management, Ethereum payments, UX and onboarding flows. The foundation wants to fund design studies and hire designers to connect with teams.
The Ethereum project began with open source developers contributing to the project in their spare time. This has led to a “hackternship” grant for members who propose an impactful side project.
The grants are as follows:
- L4 Research – Scalability Grant – $1.5M. State channels research.
- Runtime Verification – Security Grant – $500K. Casper contract formal verification.
- ETHGlobal – DevEx Grant – $200K. World-class developer conferences for Ethereum.
- Prysmatic Labs – Scalability Grant – $100K. Sharding implementation.
- DDA – #build Grant – $100K. Tokenless decentralized derivatives network + state channels R&D.
- Barcelona Supercomputing Center – Scalability Grant – $50K. Sharding simulation.
- Plasma Taiwan Dev – Scalability Grant – $25K. Plasma implementation.
- Ethers.js – DevEx Grant – $25K. Web3.js alternative.
- Turbo Geth – Scalability Grant – $25K. Geth optimization.
- Solium – DevEx Grant – $10K. Solidity static analyzer.
- Alex Komarov – Design Grant – $10K. Key management UX study.
- (Anonymous) – Hackternship – $10K. Deterministic WebAssembly.
- Ankit Raj – Hackternship – $10K. Technical writing for Geth and Solidity.
The foundation announced that wants to see more applications in the following areas:
1. Alternate sharding implementations
2. Alternate plasma implementations
3. Improving efficiency of existing clients such as geth and parity
4. A tokenless “Lightning Network” for Ethereum
1. UX design studies to improve private key management and transacting in Ethereum
2. Alternative wallet/client designs
3. Tooling that improves developer experience
4. Improved documentation and developer/user education videos
1. Security audits for Solidity and Vyper
2. Smart contract audits
3. Tooling that prevents vulnerable code
The foundation will fund a 10-week “externship” for spare time work on Ethereum. Successful projects will be featured at a developer conference. The foundation is also looking to hire from this pool of side projects.