As a reminder, the Ethereum project seeks to support useful dapps and smart contracts on the Ethereum blockchain, and the goal of the Ethereum Foundation is to empower developers with best-in-class R&D, developer experience, and education. Despite the early promise of the ecosystem, we still have a long way to go, and we are here to work with the community to drive concrete progress.
These grants will fuel the teams working hard at research & development to support the entire ecosystem. Furthermore, we hope that these grants will signal to the community what we think are the missing pieces in the ecosystem that need more support. Said in another way, the Foundation is here to serve teams and individuals that are working to prevent a tragedy of the commons.
This year, we will double down on working with the community to make Ethereum scalable, useful and secure. As such, although this grant program was announced two months ago as a strictly scalability-focused program, we decided to broaden the support to projects that are doing great work across scalability, usefulness and security. These projects have no ICOs, no token sales, and focus simply on building useful products and experiences.
Scalability can be in the form of implementing sharding, plasma or state channels with existing teams or on your own. It can also be in the form of optimizing geth/parity or building alternate clients. Usefulness is for improving the developer experience (e.g. static analyzers, linters, dev frameworks, mobile SDKs, documentation, Solidity/Vyper development) or experimenting with new dapps that provide utility to the end user. Security can range from auditing existing contracts to providing tools that prevent error-prone programming patterns to contributing to alternative second-layer languages that focus on security.
We are also beginning to engage with the design community to help solve product and UX design problems. For example, key management, Ethereum payments UX and onboarding flows are all areas that need major improvement for mainstream adoption. We would like to fund more design studies, hire, and connect talented designers with exciting teams in the space.
Lastly, we would like to remind ourselves of how the Ethereum project began: passionate open-source developers contributing to the project on their spare time. In that spirit, we’ve begun a “hackternship” grant for community members that propose an impactful Ethereum side project.
Here are the inaugural Ethereum Foundation grant winners:
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 – #buidl 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.
* DevEx Grant – Improves developer experience (“useful” for developers).
** #buidl Grant – Builds for the end user (“useful” for users).
What we provide for teams that win a grant
- Non-dilutive funding
- Technical advisory
- Connection to more users
- Platform to share your work
We hope to provide Ethereum teams with more runway, advice and resources to focus simply on building useful products and experiences.
Also, many of these grants may be followed on with additional funding and/or collaboration when milestones are achieved. We believe this will provide tight feedback loops for impact to the ecosystem.
Wishlist for future grants
In future rounds of grants, we would like to see more applications in these areas:
- Alternate sharding implementations
- Alternate plasma implementations
- Improving efficiency of existing clients such as geth & parity
- A tokenless “Lightning Network” for Ethereum
- UX design studies to improve private key management and transacting in Ethereum
- Alternative wallet / client designs
- Tooling that improves developer experience
- Improved documentation & developer/user education videos
- Security audits for Solidity and Vyper
- Smart contract audits
- Tooling that prevents vulnerable code
- You have a job (or school)? No problem! Suggest a problem you want to solve and we’re happy to fund a 10-week $10K externship for your spare-time working on Ethereum. Successful projects will be featured at a developer conference. We are also looking to hire and fund from this pool of side projects.
This is an ongoing grant program, and we’d like to invite the rest of the community to approach us with your ideas (application link).
Ethereum is built by the community for the community, and we’re here to support you. Thank you for building!
Ethereum Foundation Team