Dfinity Foundation Launches $215 Million Grant To Boost Developer Ecosystem

Dfinity Foundation is boosting its developer ecosystem with a $215 million grant. This is to help further the development of decentralized applications (DApps) on the Internet Computer blockchain. Over 115 teams have benefitted from this grant and more are expected to do so as time goes by.

NewsBTC sat down with Lomesh Dutta, Vice President of Growth at Dfinity Foundation, to talk about the Internet Computer Developer Ecosystem Program, how it’s distributed, and the impact it has had on the blockchain since inception.

NewsBTC: Why was the Developer Ecosystem Program set up?

Lomesh Dutta: The CHF 200m ($215m) Internet Computer Developer Ecosystem Program is a resource that helps developers finance the building of decentralized apps (dapps), tooling, and infrastructure on the Internet Computer.

The Internet Computer is the world’s first blockchain that runs at web speed and can scale without bound. These capabilities empower developers to design new applications and tooling without being hindered by proprietary infrastructure or the limitations of conventional blockchains. The ecosystem program is designed for entrepreneurs, developer teams, and community members, supporting the growth of a new ecosystem of dapps and services on the open, decentralized web.

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NewsBTC: So far, only $2m out of the $215m grant program has been handed out. Are there plans to ramp up this figure?

Lomesh Dutta: The developer grants program is a subset of the overall ecosystem program. For instance, to supercharge gaming on the Internet Computer we just announced Achievement Unblocked — a $10 million grant pool for gaming developers in partnership with United eSports to demonstrate how blockchain gaming will progressively enter the mainstream. 

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The grant program is designed to offer non-dilutive financing in the form of developer grants to teams building on the Internet Computer. I think the best way to look at the grant program right now is not the amount funded but rather by the number and the quality of teams that have been bootstrapped by the program. All grants are awarded in tiers of $5,000, $25,000, and $100,000. These initial grants help teams build early prototypes and raise larger grants, VCs, and very soon community grants. So far, over 115 teams have received funding from the grants program.

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What is super exciting is that very soon (if the community accepts the proposal), ICP holders can easily make their staked ICP available for “autonomous contribution” to decentralization auctions. ​​This is essentially a community-powered fund that could easily be in billions of dollars and would be available to the ecosystem projects that are building on the Internet Computer. In return, those contributing their staked ICP will receive governance tokens for the associated ecosystem project — allowing them to shape the direction of the project. 

Beyond financial support, our team also offers technical support to our developer partners and grantees and often offers ad-hoc help with co-marketing, design, and UX.

Moreover, the Internet Computer provides functionality and utility that many other blockchains cannot, including unbounded smart contract capacity to innovate beyond what is currently conceivable in dapp development. This means there are both technical and marketing support and revenue-generating opportunities on the Internet computer that go far beyond the initial grant.

NewsBTC: Dev activity has been ramping up on Internet Computer. What effect, if any, has this had on the blockchain?

Lomesh Dutta: The developer activity is absolutely mind-blowing. Nearly 13,000 IC smart contracts (we call them canisters) have been deployed since genesis, representing a roughly 20% week-over-week growth in developer adoption. Canisters are the next evolution of smart contracts, and unlike their predecessors, they run at web speed and can store data in memory. This gives them the unique advantage that any form of internet application we know about can be built completely on-chain

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We’re talking about services easily as large and complex as Facebook, Youtube, etc., all running on-chain. I think the world will be in complete awe with what they are about to witness once some of these projects start adding decentralized governance and token incentive mechanisms to supercharge their growth. 

NewsBTC: What would you say has been the biggest pull of Internet Computer blockchain for developers?

Lomesh Dutta: Internet Computer is the only blockchain where developers can build web-scale dapps and games completely on-chain. These dapps run at web speed and do not require end-users to have a wallet or spend tokens to interact with smart contracts. If your ambition, as an entrepreneur, is to build the next Facebook, then you wouldn’t want to settle for any of that friction. Developers are building mass-market applications that run at web scale. Once these projects start implementing decentralized governance and tokenization, we expect several unicorns will emerge out of the Internet Computer ecosystem in very short order. 

NewsBTC: One of the most popular dapps on IC is OpenChat. Given that it is competing against established messaging giants like WhatsApp and Signal, how confident are you in the project?

Lomesh Dutta: The main benefit of Openchat over Signal or Whatsapp is that Openchat runs completely on-chain, is totally decentralized, uncensorable, and is community governed. For example, WhatsApp infamously announced that their privacy policy now required users to accept that their account details, location, IP addresses, and more will be shared with Facebook. They had little choice but to accept the new policy or eventually lose all access to their account. 

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This could never happen on OpenChat. By its very design, neither the developers nor anyone else could modify, censor, or scrape any user data. This makes us increasingly confident in the blockchain’s future, as more users become disillusioned by the combination of data harvesting and censorship currently happening in many social media platforms.

NewsBTC: To wrap up, give us a brief run-down of how Internet Computer is doing. Any exciting projects in the pipeline?

Lomesh Dutta: For one, we’re very excited to talk about the upcoming integration with both the Bitcoin and Ethereum networks. With Bitcoin, the Internet Computer isn’t utilizing insecure and cumbersome bridging and wrapping services which effectively entrust users’ funds to a third-party smart contract. Instead, the Internet Computer will leverage its Chain Key Cryptography to integrate with Bitcoin directly. This will give each IC Smart Contract its own Bitcoin public key, enabling them to hold, send and receive their own Bitcoin natively. 

As a result, the Internet Computer smart contracts will gain access to bitcoin liquidity, and bitcoin will realize powerful new smart contract functionality — opening up the much-discussed possibilities of DeFi capabilities on bitcoin. This power, combined with IC’s native abilities and ultimately bridging to the Ethereum blockchain, will serve as a powerful means to bring together the whole of web 3.0 and the backbone of the coming Metaverse.

Lastly, to make sure that this ecosystem stays decentralized and in the hands of the people, Dfinity is instilling an ecosystem-wide tokenized governance system for apps on the IC blockchain, dubbed the Service Nervous System (SNS). The SNS upgrade will allow users to vote on the direction of any given platform — from the granular, such as user interface upgrades to the more substantial, including control over app features and user incentivization models. 

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This also means entrepreneurs and developers can bypass the need for VC funding, as the governance system will earmark an allocation of governance tokens for a given service. For example, this could break down to something like 25% to developers, 25% to the community, and 50% for a treasury reserve. Truly, whatever model is needed can be created and deployed.

We believe this places the Internet Computer at the center of the revolution that is unfolding. Not only does it solve all of the scaling issues present in legacy chains, but it also does so in a way that inclusively brings them along for the ride. This should unlock the true possibilities of web 3.0.

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BitMEX Announces Two New Grants To Bitcoin Developers

The bitcoin exchange will support the work of Rene Pickhardt and Chris Coverdale with $33,333 each over the next eight months.

Bitcoin trading platform BitMEX announced two new open-source Bitcoin developer grants to Rene Pickhardt and Chris Coverdale, marking the end of the company’s 2021 grant program. Rene and Chris have each received an eight-month grant of $33,333 until May 2022, which would be equivalent to $50,000 per annum. According to the announcement, this interim funding is designed to help aspiring developers move into full-time Bitcoin development.

“With the addition of Rene Pickhardt and Chris Coverdale to the open source Bitcoin developer grant programme, that makes six open source developers in total,” said BitMEX CEO Alex Höptner, per the announcement. “We’re proud of our long term commitment to Bitcoin and open source technology. We are delighted to welcome Rene and Chris to the program and will continue to support Bitcoin development for years to come.”

Rene will work on improving the reliability of the Lightning Network’s payment process. In March, he published a paper introducing probabilistic path-finding, which became the foundation of his follow-up work on optimally reliable and cheap payment flows, submitted in July. Rene intends to implement his new path-finding algorithm coined “Pickhardt Payments” as a library that can be leveraged by nodes, wallets, and service providers in the Lightning Network. BitMEX’s grant will allow Rene to further develop his optimal payment flows algorithm and work on the several follow-up questions laid out by his paper.

Chris, on the other hand, will be focusing on bitcoin mining. The developer will work on building an implementation of the Stratum V2 Bitcoin mining pool protocol, which he has been working on since February. The protocol allows end miners to select transactions and contract blocks themselves, rather than delegating these choices to the mining pool operator, improving data transfer efficiency and the censorship resistance of Bitcoin. Slush Pool/Braiins are also working on an implementation of that protocol. Still, BitMEX’s grant seeks to empower Chris in his independent implementation as well as improve the chances of success for Stratum V2.

In addition to Rene and Chris, BitMEX also supports Bitcoin Core maintainer Michael Ford, Gleb Naumenko, Utreexo developer Calvin Kim, and Bitcoin Core developer Sjors Provoost. BitMEX shared that all six grantees have funding secured until May 2022, when the company will assess renewals.


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BitMEX and Human Rights Foundation provide $150K grant to Bitcoin scaling researcher

Popular crypto derivatives exchange BitMEX has announced a $150,000 grant for Calvin Kim — a Korean-based Bitcoin scaling researcher.

The grant comprises the second instance in which BitMEX has backed Kim’s research, with the exchange donating $30,000 to Kim in August 2020.

For his current research, Kim plans to implement Utreexo into Bitcoin deployments using the Go and Rust programming languages respectively, while also working on “improving the initial block download time in Bitcoin.”

Utreexo is a Bitcoin scaling solution and hash accumulator that Kim has been working on since mid-2019, with the protocol’s design having first been proposed by MIT Digital Currency Initiative researcher Thaddeus Dryja — who also co-authored the Lightning Network whitepaper.

The new grant was issued by BitMEX in collaboration with the non-profit Human Rights Foundation, or HRF — an organization that supports human rights activism globally — with the HRF contributing $50,000 on top of BitMEX’s $100,000 one-year grant for Kim. The researcher stated:

“This year, with the financial support of BitMEX and the Human Rights Foundation, I intend to continue what I was doing last year and continue moving the Utreexo project to something a user can download and use.”

In a May 31 announcement published BitMEX’s research branch, the HRF noted that it has long “worked to promote human rights on the Korean peninsula through technology,” and that it hopes to inspire others from the region to get involved with Bitcoin.

“It is exciting for HRF to have the opportunity to bolster Calvin’s efforts and we hope that his work can inspire others from the region to get involved with Bitcoin and contribute to its mission to provide open-source freedom money for the world,” HRF said.

According to the organization’s website, the HRF support Bitcoin because it “can be a tool of freedom for human rights defenders facing hyperinflation or financial surveillance.”

The HRF’s $50,000 grant to Kim is part of the organization’s $210,000 Bitcoin Development Fund, which also included collaborations with Gemini exchange and Square Crypto in support of developer, Dhruv Mehta.

Mehta received $50,000 to work on increasing Bitcoin’s censorship-resistance through BIP324 — a peer-to-peer message transport protocol that aims to protect Bitcoin peers against man-in-the-middle attacks on seed nodes.

The fund also included $50,000 of support to Nur Khalil, a Nigerian Bitcoin developer who develops Bitcoin wallet software for the Nigerian context.