IOG’s Project Catalyst team has operated nine cycles over nearly three years, funding over 1,100 projects. Now on the heels of its 500th completed project and following an extended period of reflection and planning, Fund10 is on the horizon! The relaunch of Project Catalyst, restructured toward co-building innovation on Cardano, will begin on June 21, 2023.
Project Catalyst is Cardano’s innovation engine and one of the world's most significant decentralized grant funds. Catalyst supports ecosystem growth and innovation by providing a dynamic and effective environment where the Cardano community can explore the highest potential of human collaboration and impact, inclusive of all ada holders and other actors within the Cardano ecosystem. All funding cycles so far have leveraged the Cardano Treasury to realize the idea of decentralized innovation management and governance.
While all rounds have represented tremendous participation and collaboration among the Cardano community, an overall consensus grew for processes to develop, be streamlined, become more autonomous, stay inclusive, and continue to demonstrate value through open innovation funding opportunities. Project Catalyst is now at an inflection point where ada holders can reflect on the experience thus far and visualize possible future routes.
Catalyst has tried to live by trust, transparency, accountability, privacy, security, and collaboration principles. In Fund10, Catalyst will be rolling out milestones-based funding for all projects, as well as the Catalyst continuous testNET, an open-source environment that the community can deploy, where a running fund can simultaneously test new iterations of Project Catalyst, further improving stability and reducing cooldown times between funds.
Following an extended cooldown period after Fund9, Project Catalyst is ready to launch Fund10 on June 21 with a total budget of 50m ada. Additionally, Fund10 will include some exciting new features and significant structural changes to how funding cycles operate while putting ada holders firmly in the driving seat of any future direction.
Project Catalyst: standing up and being counted
Since its inception, Catalyst has grown from a series of experiments in social dynamics, incentivization, and collaboration, to becoming a core pillar of grassroots innovation and growth for the benefit of the Cardano ecosystem.
Now Catalyst needs to mature and take the next step in its evolution amid the backdrop of Cardano's governance with the age of Voltaire. Much debate has occurred behind the scenes about how Project Catalyst can sustainably support itself and its roadmap to continue providing a valuable service to the Cardano community.
One of the highest priorities is acknowledging that the community requires stability and certainty that innovation funding is available. This is paramount given the current challenges in the market.
With all this in mind, significant effort has been expended over the past few months to explore how Catalyst should operate now and after CIP-1694 is enacted.
Fund10 features and Project Catalyst operational changes
Fund10 begins on June 21st, and proposal submissions open on June 22nd. The deadline for draft submissions is July 13th at 11:00 UTC. The fund will control a total of 50m ada. A launch guide will be released in the coming weeks, where you will find everything you need to know to participate, including a complete list of the community's challenges.
In addition to the new ‘Catalyst Open’ proposal category, Fund10 introduces two other new proposal categories that may represent some of the most important decisions to date for the community to make.
Fund10 will also include the Statement of Milestones (SOM) module for all funded projects across challenges, the release of the Catalyst continuous TestNET, and many improvements to the reviewer processes, UX, documentation, website integrations, and accountability model.
Let’s dive deeper into the core of the changes to Project Catalyst and what these mean for Fund10.
Statement of Milestones
The accountability of Catalyst-funded proposers is crucial in preserving a fair and unbiased funding framework. This is an increasingly important topic as Catalyst has now scaled to funding hundreds of projects each round.
A pilot program of more vigorous checks and balances, verified by community members, was established for almost half of the approved projects in the last funding round to address this challenge. This program protects the funds distributed to projects receiving ada from the Cardano treasury.
Milestone-based funding enables funded projects to lay out their critical path to delivering their promises, highlighting each key milestone, output, acceptance criteria, costs, and what evidence of achievements will be provided at each stage. In this context, a milestone is an important event or action in a project on your business journey that marks a crucial step of progress.
Given the pilot's success and in conjunction with these systems, the Catalyst team has developed a module interface, including an easy-to-use workflow which will now be a requirement to complete for all funded proposers.
In the coming weeks, we’ll dive deeper into Milestone-based funding and the Milestone module, so watch this space for more.
Catalyst Continuous TestNET
Catalyst has proposed experimental features over the last nine funds. Some of these proposed enhancements worked as intended, and some still need refinement to deliver the functionality the community expected and desired. This is the nature of experimentation and forging innovative new paths.
Introducing multiple dedicated TestNETs enables testing proposed features in a sandbox environment, where breaking things does not affect the active funding cycle. This further enhances the user's experience of the live funds while enhancing the creativity from experimentation.
- Features only get moved to production after the community has had reasonable time to review and test them.
- The production environment is stable and can be operated on a regular and reliable cadence without significant risk of breakage between funds. No new features appear in the fund cycle at late moments, allowing everyone to know exactly how the fund will operate.
- A Pre-Production environment allows for numerous public dry-runs of all funds, so everyone in the community can run the production fund confidently.
- New and experienced users can test with ALL Project Catalyst features safely and openly.
- System integrators and wallet providers have known and reliable test targets to develop against.
Experimental features can be refined in the open and with community collaboration to get the best possible result when finally deployed, with ZERO impact on funding operations or production reliability.
Further documentation on this feature will be available soon, so stay tuned by joining our newsletter.
Catalyst Operator category
IOG created and funded Project Catalyst to help bootstrap the growth of the Cardano ecosystem. Project Catalyst has grown to a point where it could become far more agile and offer more opportunities to enhance ecosystem growth if it were entirely self-funded and self-sufficient. Catalyst has now grown to the point where the community should decide whether they want the existing Catalyst team to continue providing the administrative functions of Project Catalyst or whether they want a new provider.
Cardano belongs to all ada holders, so decisions about how the ecosystem grows should be in the community’s hands. Ultimately, a self-funding Cardano is the very definition of an autonomous flywheel of innovation, which is the goal of Project Catalyst. Given this fact, Fund10 will include the possibility for the community to approve the operations of Project Catalyst in the following 12 months. Under the ‘Catalyst Operations’ category, the community can vote on proposals for the Catalyst Operator position.
The Catalyst Operator's responsibility is to run all administrative and operational aspects of the funding rounds. This change to the functional structure of Project Catalyst (by requiring the fund operator to put forward proposals in this way) not only provides greater transparency but also enables the community to provide consent and feedback through the exact mechanisms that any other catalyst proposal has to go through including voting on the proposal. The Catalyst Operator must demonstrate competence and a track record to the community that it can manage treasury resources with the highest assurance of trust and accountability and be ready to operate shortly after Fund10 concludes.
The operator’s proposal with the most positive votes will be selected. As a result, the operational elements of running Project Catalyst will be funded via the Cardano Treasury. A future blog will expand on what a treasury-funded Catalyst team means for the community.
Catalyst systems improvements category
While the Catalyst Operations category enables the community to consent to the overall operational elements of running Funds, the Catalyst Systems Improvements category enables the selection and prioritization of the improvements that the community would like to implement, allowing the Catalyst Operator to serve the community's needs better.
Catalyst systems improvements are proposals that have or will have a high likelihood of advancing the state of the innovation platform for Cardano offered by Project Catalyst. Proposals entered in this category must demonstrate improvements in one or more of the following areas:
- Engineering of decentralization or distribution of decision-making advances for the Catalyst Voting System
- Design research that streamlines or otherwise improves Project Catalyst processes.
- Academic research aims to explore potential solutions to the challenges faced by Project Catalyst with a strong probability of yielding tangible outcomes. These outcomes could be effectively implemented through a subsequent proposal for execution.
- The proposed improvement must be ready for the fund operator to deploy once the funding round is concluded, with a mature accountability model. They must also be able to be reasonably deployed and maintained in production by the fund operator,
- A proposal requiring 500 backend GPUs would only be reasonable if the community were also willing to fund the continuous operations of the GPUs with a variation to the operating budget.
- A proposal requiring a quantum computer would not be reasonable in 2023/2024 for the fund operator to deploy, so even if it were a valid improvement, it would not be practical to deploy and would be vetoed.
All proposed improvements would ONLY get deployed to production in Project Catalyst after the community has had sufficient opportunity to test and evaluate the final proposal implementation. All proposals must detail how this will be achieved. Any suggestion that does not meet community expectations for production deployment can be re-proposed for further work to improve upon it until it’s acceptable and viable for Project Catalyst production deployment.
What else is new in Fund10?
Additionally and importantly, Fund10 will include other improvements that both support and enhance the features detailed above:
- Updates to projectcatalyst.io, including an area for documentation.
- The evolution of the Community Review stage before voting starts. Introducing new community reviewer levels & incentives.
- New scripts for flagging community reviews to be moderated
- Implementation of SOM & Proof of Achievement schema + guidance across all challenges.
- Significant voting app registration process improvements.
- The addition of a testNET desktop voting tool, a wallet connector, and representative voting.
Future communications will delve deeper into these features, so stay tuned.
The Catalyst team is thrilled to embark on the next stage of evolution that will bring together all engaged participants, aligning them towards a future-oriented goal. It is now the opportune moment for Project Catalyst itself to be measured by the same yardstick as all other proposals submitted for funding.
How to get involved
Do you want to participate actively in Project Catalyst? The first step is creating an account on the Catalyst collaboration platform, IdeaScale. For regular updates on the progress of Project Catalyst, please subscribe to the Catalyst mailing list and join the Discord and Telegram communities.