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Our million-dollar baby: Project Catalyst

The next Catalyst funding round will be our most accessible and ambitious round of funding yet

12 February 2021 Dor Garbash 3 mins read

Our million-dollar baby: Project Catalyst

We launched Project Catalyst six months ago as a series of experiments to advance on-chain governance and accelerate community-driven innovation on Cardano. The project seeks to achieve the highest levels of community collaboration and to seed the best ideas with development funding via a community-moderated process. Community, innovation, funding, value, growth – Catalyst creates powerful synergies, and ultimately a self-sustaining engine of growth for Cardano’s future. 

Each funding round has grown in its scope, level of funding, and community engagement. We already have 7,000 members on the IdeaScale innovation platform with 1,800 active voters. Adoption is growing by 10% every week and we have only just begun. 

Fund4 will be our most accessible and ambitious round yet and our first million dollar round – that’s the size of the ada pot to fund development projects on Cardano. Proposal teams will use these funds to develop tooling, build decentralized applications, launch education and training initiatives for developers, and so much more. Every fresh contribution adds fresh value to the ecosystem. And since the community is at the core of Catalyst, 20% of treasury funds are set aside to reward and incentivize community advisers, referrers and participating voters for their contribution.

Throughout 2021, we will continue to encourage engagement with the project across the Cardano community by making it more accessible. In Fund3, voter registration has been significantly improved. Registration is now fully integrated with the Daedalus wallet, within a new registration center. This replaces a separate user-unfriendly and time-consuming process we had to use in Fund2 for technical reasons, now addressed. For Yoroi light wallet users, a browser extension provides easy registration. Voters will then use a dedicated mobile voting app – downloadable on iOS or Android – to complete the process. In a future Daedalus release, users will ultimately be able to register and vote from the wallet. To participate in voting you need to meet a threshold currently set at 3,000 ada - a threshold set to help protect the voting system from malicious attacks. To get a Cardano wallet, make sure to download Daedalus only from its official site or use the official Yoroi browser extension.

In less than half a year, Project Catalyst has grown to become the world’s largest decentralized autonomous organization (DAO). It is a fulcrum of future development and sustainable innovation, driven by the Cardano community, for the Cardano community. This latest fund is a huge step up for the proposers, advisers, and voters collaborating already. We want to encourage everyone to become part of bringing on-chain governance to Cardano.

If you are an ada holder and you want to influence and contribute to the future direction for Cardano, then bring your ideas and join us at Project Catalyst.

*Please note, due to an editing error, a previous version of this blog erroneously stated that voter registration and voting would be included in the forthcoming Daedalus release. Our apologies for any confusion.

Project Catalyst – the first winning proposals

The community has spoken and 11 projects will receive funding to advance the Cardano ecosystem

12 January 2021 Dor Garbash 4 mins read

Project Catalyst – the first winning proposals

Project Catalyst is an ongoing experiment in exploring decentralized innovation and collaboration at its highest level. As the first stage in the Voltaire roadmap, it challenges participants to pool their ingenuity, creativity and passion to identify ground-breaking projects that support Cardano’s growth. 

Fund2 was the first time that Project Catalyst participants pitched, debated, refined, and voted on proposals using real ada. This was aimed at enhancing and bringing new value to Cardano. We challenged Fund2 participants to come up with ways to encourage Cardano ecosystem development in the next six months. With an available initial ada fund worth $250,000, we are able to fund 11 proposals.

Today, we are thrilled to announce the funded proposals in Fund2.

PoolTool platform upgrade: Opening avenues to build businesses and applications on Cardano that differentiate between stake pool operators by offering additional products. This upgrade is aimed at increasing infrastructure diversity across Cardano.

Ouroboros over RINA: Deploying a proof of concept stake pool and relay solution of Ouroboros over RINA using Ethernet/WDM at two sites in Tokyo, Japan. 

Haskell/Plutus/Marlowe education: Creating educational content that conveys complex information in a structured way, supplemented with examples that inspire ideas. This proposal makes it easier for new developers and entrepreneurs.

Create a message-signing standard: Generating a message-signing standard to prove reserves, identity, and stake pool delegation. 

Liqwid: Cardano lending markets for decentralized finance: Creating an open-source, non-custodial liquidity protocol to earn interest on deposits and borrow assets on Cardano.

Cardano for mobile DApp developers: Turning mobile platforms into the first-class citizens of the DApp world with mobile SDKs, mobile-first DApp experience and app store compatibility. 

GimbaLabs – starter kits and tools: GimbaLabs is a startup platform providing free and open source APIs, lessons, and project-based learning resources to help people bring their ideas to life on Cardano and so drive adoption of the blockchain.

Lovelace Academy for Marlowe and Plutus: Establishing an online academy to attract, inspire and educate individuals and companies to create applications on Cardano's smart contract and native assets platform. 

Sign Tx Arduino: Starting a library for code written in the C programming language that is compatible with the Arduino development environment.  Sign local Cardano transactions in advance of smart contracts being available to  enable applications for the internet of things (IoT). 

Pet Registry DApp with ₳Pay: Helping developers accept ada payments on websites. The Pet Registry DApp, built on ₳Pay, will service a global audience in a cheaper, better way. Devs are inspired by successful apps and the tools needed to build them, By creating both, we can inspire and accelerate devs and their solutions.

Japan Cardano Governance Association: Meetings & Communities & Podcasts: supporting online/offline meetups, governance podcasts etc. for our Japanese community.

On behalf of the Project Catalyst team, we want to congratulate all of these exciting projects. Each funded team will receive their ada by the end of January so they can begin bringing their ideas to life. We are looking forward to seeing the impact of these projects on the Cardano ecosystem. 

We also want to extend our congratulations and gratitude to everyone else who participated in Fund2. Our proposers, community advisers, collaborators and voters all had a hand in making Fund2 a success. Project Catalyst is all about putting the community in command of Cardano and you have demonstrated that the future of our ecosystem is in very good hands. 

Although 11 ideas have been funded this time, a number of strong contenders met the community voting threshold but missed out on funding this time. In the linked PDF, those projects highlighted in green have secured community funding. Those in yellow were approved for funding by the community, but the treasury did not have enough funding to support their proposals. We’ll be encouraging these proposers to resubmit their ideas for the just-launched Fund3 where relevant (with its focus on the DApp ecosystem) and we hope to see the best of these funded by the community next time.

We have bold and ambitious plans for Project Catalyst in 2021, with ada worth millions of dollars being made available to fund innovation on Cardano. Submission for proposals for Fund3 will open tomorrow, don’t miss out on the opportunity to make your voice heard.

If you’d like to join the Project Catalyst community as a proposer, community adviser, implementer or voter, please join us on Ideascale and start innovating alongside our global network of participants. Sign up to the Telegram announcement channel for the latest news. 

Five lessons in blockchain governance

Project Catalyst is bringing collective innovation to Cardano.

15 October 2020 Dor Garbash 6 mins read

Five lessons in blockchain governance

Project Catalyst is, at its heart, a series of experiments in innovation and governance. Once it was decided to set up a funded system to encourage innovation for Cardano, the IOHK team decided to collaborate with our global community from the start. So, that’s what we did. Now, with two funds already incubating hundreds of proposals and fostering thousands of conversations, we wanted to share some of the things that we’ve learned.

  1. Our diversity is our strength

We knew that the Cardano community was crucial to realizing the full potential of Project Catalyst. But we did not fully realize the depth of the expertise available, nor its truly global reach. When we called for ideas for the project, people responded. To date, Project Catalyst has drawn 3000 registered users, 500 perspectives, 126 proposals and +5,000 comments from 70 countries around the globe. Building courses in Haskell engineering, boosting decentralized technology in West Africa, podcasts and blockchain applications in many fields are among the ideas pitched on our Ideascale innovation platform. Furthermore, each one of these has been refined by the Project Catalyst community.

With such a worldwide community of entrepreneurs, experts, and specialists, we are able to tap into a previously unknown well of ingenuity. Furthermore, the community itself is responsible for ensuring that the brightest ideas rise to the top.

  1. Community interest is self-interest

Proposals in Fund2 are vying for a share of an ada fund worth $250,000. This is an enormous incentive for individuals to make their pitch as strong as possible. However, we are working hard to ensure that there is an equal incentive for people to help develop the ideas of others, instead of focusing on just their own proposal. When a strong idea comes to fruition, it will inevitably benefit Cardano, and therefore every ada holder. Ultimately, we have learned that we need to provide a variety of motivations and experiences for the community to foster the most productive dialogue.

Currently, Project Catalyst participants can give a limited number of ‘kudos’ or positive affirmations to people providing value to the Fund through their comments and proposals. This is meant to build communal support. We are also establishing a cohort of community advisers. These are registered participants who have no active proposals but want to provide thoughtful and fair advice to voters. The first of these community advisers are now joining up and we are looking forward to seeing how they will benefit the project.

  1. Innovation requires a positive mindset

Despite its many benefits, the digital world can be a toxic place. From YouTube scams and keyboard warriors, to Twitter trolls and spam emails, there sometimes seems no end to the pitfalls in online engagement. Project Catalyst is learning to minimize this activity if not eliminate it entirely. One way that we are working on this is by leveraging the experience of our Fund1 participants. These early pioneers are helping encourage mutual respect and collaboration, which we hope will proliferate through the entire system. However, we understand that is a tough goal for any global platform.

That being said, we have an automated reminder to encourage people to keep their thoughts focused on how feasible an idea is, how its effect can be measured and audited, and its potential impact on Cardano. We want to attract the most talented entrepreneurs, and so the more constructive the feedback, the nearer we come to fulfilling our strategic objective. Furthermore, the Catalyst team has published a guide for community behavior and feedback. If and when we detect abusive activity, we reserve the right to warn or ban the miscreants. Toxicity can damage the project and even Cardano as a whole, so our interventions will develop as the community grows. We remain focused on creating a forum for passionate discussions without constraining creativity.

  1. Break down barriers to creativity

Thus far, we have been pleased with the progress Project Catalyst has made on the Ideascale innovation platform. It provides an easy-to-use interface for developing complex ideas. But no system is perfect. Some community members have found the interface overwhelming. For us to find and develop groundbreaking ideas, our working methods must always work to enhance creativity.

Currently, we are listening to community feedback through the Catalyst problem sensing challenge and feedback forms. This helps us hear what works and what needs iterating and improving. Ultimately, the proposals chosen and funded by Project Catalyst are only as good as their ability to be embraced and championed by the community. And great collaboration tools are vital for this.

  1. Focus on the returns

Every challenge within the program represents an intention to generate outcomes from the fund. We are now working on ways to measure the effect of these intentions and how they contribute to a challenge being met. These measures include measuring how many developers, entrepreneurs, businesses, and Dapps were developed as an outcome of every proposal. Ultimately, that which is measured can be managed.

For example, the current Fund2 challenge is:

How can we encourage developers and entrepreneurs to build DApps and businesses on top of Cardano in the next 6 months?

This challenge is fairly open-ended, and deliberately so. These wide-ranging challenges are designed to encourage a broad spectrum of ideas. But not too broad, so we can still measure and track them effectively.

Applying the lessons

We’re building a system which will eventually be run, developed, and funded entirely by the community itself. In time, IOHK will only be involved with the daily operations of Cardano at the request of the community itself. However, until we are able to hand over total control to ada holders, we must maintain constant communication.

Throughout the Project Catalyst program, we have worked to ensure that communication is a two-way street. We are redoubling these efforts by ensuring that we seek out feedback at every stage. We also ensure that community assessments will be performed at the conclusion of each fund. These interventions allow us to prioritize solving issues that are important to the community.

Project Catalyst has been an incredible journey. These are only five of the takeaways from our current process. As the experiment continues grows, we are looking forward to learning more, attracting more participants, and building a best-in-class governance system. This is only the beginning.

Get involved with Project Catalyst by logging on at Ideascale or joining our next Crowdcast town hall on October 21.

Project Catalyst; introducing our first public fund for Cardano community innovation

An exciting experiment to start building the future of Cardano

16 September 2020 Dor Garbash 4 mins read

Project Catalyst; introducing our first public fund for Cardano community innovation

Today, we are announcing the launch of Project Catalyst’s first public fund, an important first step into the world of on-chain governance, treasury, and community innovation for Cardano.

The public fund launch follows five months of intense activity, across two previous trial ‘funds’. ‘Fund 0’ was the very first experiment, using a focus group made up from IOG team members. ‘Fund 1’ was the first time we introduced the idea to the Cardano community, recruiting a group of some 50 volunteers to help us develop the platform and processes. While this voting cycle did not offer ‘real’ funding, it served as a hugely valuable way to give our team and the Cardano community members a chance to test drive and refine the emerging process.

We still have a way to go. But with the community's support, we want to maintain the pace of progress we have already set. If Fund 0 was the technical runthrough, Fund 1 was the dress rehearsal. Announced today, Fund 2 is the opening night where the star acts of the community get the chance to compete for the funding to bring their project center stage.

Funding the future

We have learned a lot since we kicked off the private phase of the program in August. Support from our pioneer group of 50 community participants helped us to identify areas for improvement so we could develop and refine the process before opening things up more widely. We learned that providing clear documentation and guidelines helps the community engage more deeply and focus on the ideas. We also learned we can provide alternative avenues for the community to discuss “meta” proposals. This enhances the Catalyst and Voltaire processes while focusing attention on writing impactful proposals. Furthermore, we realized that it was important for IOHK to support individuals writing proposals to ensure their ideas were fairly represented.

Cardano will thrive by unlocking the creative potential of our global community. Our voting protocol will only be as good as the ideas which feed into it. To that end, we are developing a guide to help anyone develop the best possible proposal for Fund 2 and beyond.

The first public fund we’re announcing today contains up to $250k-worth of ada, which the community can access. Anyone can bring their idea and create a proposal. Through a public vote, ‘winning’ proposals will begin a development process.

Initially, we’re keeping the focus tight, asking the community to address a challenge statement: “How can we encourage developers and entrepreneurs to build Dapps and businesses on top of Cardano in the next 6 months?” Funding proposals (or ‘FPs’) can address this with a wide variety of ideas – from marketing initiatives and infrastructure development, to business planning and content creation.

The first stage will be to ‘explore the challenge’, asking members of the community to provide their perspectives. Next, we’ll encourage everyone to put their best ideas forward on the innovation platform to collaborate and discuss via a dedicated Telegram chat channel.

A public vote

After the initial ideation, collaboration and proposal stages, we’ll be putting things to a vote. Proposals can be reviewed either on the innovation platform or on the new mobile voting application, currently in development. When it comes time to vote, all participants will need to register to vote through the voting app. The ‘right’ to vote will be linked to each participant’s ada holdings and will earn them additional rewards for voting. Participating in this first funding round will not prevent ada holders from delegating their ada and earning rewards as normal. Voting effectively functions like a ‘transaction’, allowing all participants to cast their vote to indicate ‘yes,’ or ‘no.’ We’ll share further information on the app and the voting process in a future blog post.

Collaboration and innovation

Voltaire will be a crucial building block in the Cardano ecosystem, because it allows every ada holder to be involved in making decisions on the future development of the platform and contribute to the growth of the ecosystem. Project Catalyst is the important first component in delivering that capability. The early stages of this experiment have already demonstrated the passion and commitment of the Cardano community to develop this further. With the introduction of an on-chain voting and treasury system, network participants will be able to use their stake and voting rights to steer Cardano towards tackling shared goals, in a democratic and self-sustaining way.

To find out more, you can watch our announcement Crowdcast with Charles Hoskinson and Project Catalyst’s product manager, Dor Garbash.