The Ethereum Foundation will offer grants to qualified teams interested in developing blockchain scalability solutions, Vitalik Buterin, co-founder of Ethereum, announced in a recent blog post. This will become a specialized program alongside a more general grant program the Ethereum Foundation will soon release. Subsidy amounts of $50,000 to $1 million will be available, with possibly more for successful projects.
Buterin noted two main paths to improving blockchain scalability: the sharding method and the “layer 2” method.
The sharding method creates better-designed base layer protocols that sustain the decentralization and security properties of blockchain, but only requires a small portion of nodes to process each transaction, permitting more simultaneous transactions.
The “layer 2” method sends most transactions off chain to only interact with the underlying blockchain to enter and exit from the layer 2 system. Examples of layer 2 systems include plasma, state channels and Raiden.
Combining Both Methods
Buterin sees the two methods as complementary. He supports a multi-pronged strategy for Ethereum scalability that engages both methods.
As Ethereum’s blockchain approaches 1 million daily transactions, it nears its full transaction capacity, giving greater urgency for a scaling solution.
In addition to the internal tasks involved in addressing scalability, Ethereum is launching two experimental study schemes to empower more independent teams to cooperate with the Ethereum team’s base layer scalability work and create independent layer 2 projects.
Independent teams of companies and developers are encouraged to apply for the grants.
Sharding Work Accelerates
Sharding development has accelerated over the last few months, Buterin observed. One prototype is nearly finalized, first as a sidechain anchored to the Ethereum base chain via a validator manager contract, followed by tighter integration with the Ethereum base chain. A reference deployment is becoming built-in python atop Py-EVM, with a testnet python in the works.
Buterin wants the Ethereum sharding testnet and eventually, the sharding mainnet to be multi-client from the beginning, with the Ethereum Foundation not supporting any single production deployment.
The Ethereum funded team will continue building a deployment in python and other languages possibly, but only as a reference and proof of concept. The team will focus on research, but does not wish to “win” the competition for which client will achieve the most users when the network launches.
The Ethereum Foundation will make subsidies available to independent groups wishing to deploy and participate in the sharding testnets and mainnet.
Anyone who participates will have access to a special opportunity to be part of Ethereum 2.0 development, Buterin noted.
Targeting Layer 2 Projects
Funding targets include high quality deployments of known layer 2 scaling strategies and researching new ones.
The grants will be decided by the Ethereum core leadership.
The payments are higher than those of previous grant programs since there is a higher expectation of quality and focus, Buterin noted. It is not a general purpose grant program.
Buterin asks applicants to email firstname.lastname@example.org with the official name of their product, applicant and core developers, along with information about the team’s previous blockchain activity, the proposal and the estimated timeline for development and completion.
Featured image from Flickr/Duncan Rawlinson.