Project Catalyst Fund6 – our biggest, boldest & best Cardano community innovation fund yet

Our exciting experiment continues with new challenges, new features and a $4m fund

13 August 2021 Kriss Baird 3 mins read

Project Catalyst Fund6 – our biggest, boldest & best Cardano community innovation fund yet

This week, we launched Project Catalyst Fund6, with $4m worth of ada available. Proposers can submit proposals for projects that received funding to address real-world challenges and help to build Cardano’s ecosystem.

Fund6 is our most ambitious fund yet, with more funding being distributed in Fund6 than in all the previous funds combined. For Fund6, we expect around 150 new projects to be voted into existence by the community. There is also $40k worth of ada to be rewarded for proposal referrals.

18 challenges are available for proposers to respond to and the community votes on which projects receive funding, including 10 community-set challenges, where members of the community have defined the challenges to be addressed.

In addition:

Development upgrades to Catalyst protocol and tech

Fund6 features new significant upgrades to the Catalyst infrastructure including changes to reward incentives and a significant upgrade to the overall voting experience in the application. This makes it more equitable and attractive for community advisors as well as veteran community advisors to help assess the quality of proposals.

Voters also have the opportunity to participate using their Ledger and Trezor hardware wallets across Daedalus, Yoroi, and Adalite.

Fund6 also sees the introduction of voting privacy so voters can take part with the feeling of complete confidence that their votes have tallied as expected and that they are private.

Funded proposals can also benefit from an invitation to join our successful Plutus Pioneer training program, where participants can learn how to implement Plutus smart contracts into their application.

Fund5 key stats

  • ±33 thousand wallets, ±31k IdeaScale members, + more than 150 projects funded to date!
  • Total CA reviews submitted: ±3500
  • Total proposals submitted: 930
  • Total funds allocated: $3,875,000
  • Insight shares: 1,100
  • Total votes cast: ±611,000
  • Grassroots community thriving
  • Still civil & constructive discourse even while in the middle of huge growth.

Key dates:

  • 11 August 2021: Fund6 launched at Town Hall with a Charles Hoskinson keynote presentation
  • 12 August 2021: Innovation phases begin: Insight sharing – to share perspectives on challenges
  • 19 August 2021: Proposal submission opens: 1 week for proposers to submit draft ideas to IdeaScale
  • 26 August 2021: Refine ideas: Community provides structured feedback and Proposers edit proposals
  • 9 September 2021: Deadline to finalize proposals and register community advisors for the assessment stage
  • 7 October 2021: Fund6 voting begins
  • 1st week of November: Fund6 winners announced

Project Catalyst holds weekly Town Halls for the community to learn more about the fund, ask questions, and test out project ideas in the after-Town Hall breakout rooms.

You can register for Town Hall meetings here, join the announcements Telegram or subscribe to the mailing list.

Connecting the unconnected, banking the unbanked

World Mobile and IOHK seek to disrupt the global telecommunications market

11 August 2021 Alex Hamilton 6 mins read

Connecting the unconnected, banking the unbanked

Since the pay-as-you-go boom of the late 1990s, mobile phone use has grown sharply. Yet, half of the world’s population remains unconnected. That’s nearly four billion people, most of whom live in disadvantaged or remote areas.

There are many reasons why people may not be able to gain access to a mobile network. Lack of infrastructure is the main cause because network providers see little money to be made from building mobile masts in inaccessible regions. So, until they do, many of the most economically challenged people will remain at a disadvantage.

World Mobile Chain (WMC) intends to level the playing field. Founded in London, 2018, World Mobile is the first global network built on blockchain technology. Its mission is to create a sharing economy, aimed at delivering connectivity to remote communities around the world. The company has recently begun a partnership with IOHK.

I went to find a partner, I looked around and couldn’t find anybody who was serious, except for Charles Hoskinson and IOHK, nobody had the same level of dedication. Together, we can connect the unconnected and bank the unbanked – says World Mobile Chain, CEO Micky Watkins.

Venturing where demand is highest

There are thousands of international mobile network operators. As it stands, these network operators run on legacy infrastructure, leasing cell towers, and then selling their products like airtime minutes. All of this operates on highly congested frequency bands, such as 3G, 4G and 5G. However, these operators cater only for people who are already connected, because they wrongly believe that this is where the money rests.

World Mobile differs in its approach by going where the needs of individual people are highest. Usually, this means venturing to the remotest regions. The company bypasses the congested frequencies and uses other parts of the wireless spectrum, such as TV white space and Citizens Broadband Radio Service, or free-space optics, where data is transmitted through the air using lasers. In fact, the company is already collaborating with Google in Kenya on free-space optics, “a technology capable of transferring data at 20 Gbits/s over a distance of 12km,” says Watkins. By avoiding the licensed wavelengths, World Mobile can provide connectivity at a fraction of the usual cost. Watkins continues, “the inspiration for the venture was the sheer shock of learning about four billion people not having access to a mobile network.”

Google, Microsoft, and Facebook had been trying to find solutions, but had fallen short. Watkins had already been connecting people for 15 years (using microwave technologies), when WMC was born. The fact that $64 billion a year is spent on telecommunications in Africa, and 80% of the one billion Sub-Saharan population is unconnected, the potential for WMC to disrupt the industry is staggering, both in social and economic terms.

Connectivity at a remarkably low cost

The plan is to make it viable for people in remote areas to host ‘air nodes’. These consist of poles with solar panels that are linked to a wireless access point, then connected to WMC using tiny and affordable Raspberry Pi computers. Each node costs less than $5,000, far less than other methods. These devices are system agnostic, and will allow villagers in remote regions of Africa to access the telecommunications market. Connectivity could offer a viable option to making a living through farming or trade. This is a multi-stage project that will be developed following feasibility studies. However, if everything goes to plan, the first communications-based sharing economy should be possible within three years.

WMC will test the process in Zanzibar, which will see 100,000 to 150,000 people brought onto the network. Once on board, people will take ownership and begin earning from the network. Once the process is perfected in Zanzibar, it will be rolled out in Tanzania. With a potential market of 20 million people in 13,000 villages, WMC estimates that its existing team could roll the project out to 600 villages a month. Getting just 15% of these villages to host nodes would enable them to earn a substantial income, in a manner that just wasn’t previously possible.

Much has been said about the economic potential of the people of Africa. However, an area where the continent might end up leading the way is data security. Existing mobile networks know almost everything about us with our texts, photos, even our calls not really being our own. Data has become currency, with privacy being something we surrender upon signing up with a mobile operator network. However, WMC aims to alter this status quo by incorporating a privacy element into the equation. In the future, people in developed countries may well grow to envy the self-sovereignty of those in the developing world.

So where does IOHK come in?

It’s a bold vision requiring a fresh approach. The incorporation of blockchain WMC looked at IOHK, a business with an established presence on the African continent, as well as a shared passion for fairness and inclusiveness. A partnership seemed to make sense. Micky expects that by using Cardano in order to provide people with a digital identity, WMC will be able to bring their vision into reality.

Creating a financial system for emerging markets is no easy task. However, with IOHK providing a decentralized ledger and WMC acting as a bridge to the new market, inclusive, blockchain-based connectivity is one step closer. Disrupting the global telecommunications market is not something that can be done alone or overnight, and it’s not all about money. The new markets will be the markets that no one else can reach, but with a joint team of tech and industry-savvy individuals, the next few years will witness an unprecedented global transformation, both in finance and telecommunications.

Charles Hoskinson, Cardano and IOHK all see one thing in common, creating a new financial system for the emerging world markets,” adds Watkins. IOHK has done everything they can possibly do, on a peer-to-peer level, and on a scientific level to create the software to do that.

To learn more about World Mobile’s vision for Africa, don’t miss the film premiered as part of the #CardanoAfrica special or visit their website.

A closer look at the cFund

First announced at last year’s Shelley summit, the cFund is an early-stage investment fund focused on innovative companies primarily utilizing the Cardano blockchain and its technology.

28 July 2021 Fernando Sanchez 5 mins read

A closer look at the cFund

As we move closer to smart contracts on Cardano, fund activity is now accelerating. We spoke with David Roebuck, Principal at Wave Financial, to find out more about the fund and its goals.

What is the cFund?

The cFund is a crypto-native hedge fund managed by Wave Financial in partnership with IOG. The fund employs an early-stage venture strategy and invests in innovative technology companies developing applications, businesses, and products being deployed on Cardano and in other R&D projects IOG is working on.

And why the name cFund?

The “c” in the name is a reference to the mathematical term “coefficient” which refers to the multiplier of a variable. Leveraging both IOG’s and Wave Financial’s domain expertise and industry connections, cFund is positioned to create a multiplier effect for its portfolio companies in terms of growth and reach.

What was the rationale for the introduction of the cFund?

IOG is focused on accomplishing two objectives. One is enabling developers to build scalable, interoperable, and sustainable blockchain-based solutions. The other is to foster financial inclusion to the underserved populations of the world. Ultimately, IOG aims to create a new financial infrastructure for emerging economies by cultivating a community of DApps and protocols deployed on Cardano and other blockchains.

To help IOG achieve this vision, it partnered with Wave Financial, a digital asset manager with ~$500 million in assets under management across various different strategies and products, to create cFund.

How does the cFund fit in with the whole ecosystem (Cardano, Project Catalyst, etc)?

While the cFund, IOG, and the Cardano Foundation all operate independently, they look for opportunities to collaborate. cFund in particular evaluates and provides strategic advice to its portfolio companies wishing to deploy on the Cardano blockchain.

Tell us more about the investment approach

cFund is funded by third-party, high-net worth individuals, family offices, and institutional investors (including IOG). cFund looks to invest in, and partner with, leading early-stage projects and businesses that primarily have a focus on the Cardano ecosystem and associated technology. The fund is already actively deploying capital and creating partnerships across the Cardano ecosystem.

When analyzing investment opportunities, cFund takes a disciplined approach that considers a multitude of factors when evaluating an opportunity. Firstly, the fund evaluates whether there is a clear need in the market for the offering a company provides and determines if other competitors can out-execute. In venture, we call this timing the market. Next, the fund evaluates the background of the team to determine if the founders have the knowledge, skills, resources, and ability to scale their company or project. The fund also considers possible exit scenarios.

Since one of cFund’s primary objectives is to help Cardano build alliances across the blockchain space, one of the most important factors cFund considers during its due diligence process is whether or not the company can be a value-add to the Cardano ecosystem.

One market that cFund has been deploying capital into is Decentralized Finance (DeFi), or more broadly, what is called Open Finance. cFund’s first investment in this market was COTI, a decentralized and scalable payments network for the global e-commerce market. COTI is a value-add because it plans to provide a bridge for DeFi applications wishing to deploy on the Cardano blockchain. The company is now developing ADA Pay, a gateway solution that enables merchants to accept payments in ada (the native protocol token for Cardano) with near-instant settlement. The company is also developing a stablecoin that will run on Cardano.

Another DeFI investment in the portfolio is Blockswap, which is an automated liquidity protocol for proof of stake chains that allows users to re-stake their staked assets. Blockswap brings liquidity for staking activities, providing DeFi benefits to the network. Users will be able to re-stake their fully staked assets, earning yield without the use of a synthetic asset.

cFund’s most recent investment in this space is Occam.Fi, a suite of DeFi solutions tailored for Cardano. The company’s first product is a decentralized funding platform. Through this launchpad, the next generation of disruptive DeFi applications will be able to raise capital using the Cardano blockchain. Overall, DeFi is one of a number of markets cFund invests in, but ideally the portfolio companies must have the capability of building on the Cardano ecosystem in some capacity.

Aside from investment, what else do you offer?

cFund is both a capital provider, an advisor, and a partner to its portfolio companies and the broader Cardano ecosystem. Leveraging IOG and Wave Financial’s resources, reputation, expertise, and network, cFund provides unparalleled access and guidance to its portfolio. cFund firmly believes in being a value-added investor. cFund aspires to be a management team's first call.

If there are businesses reading this who might want to be considered for funding, what should they do?

Prospective projects and businesses can reach out to Wave Financial’s early-stage distribution email, or directly message and/or follow me on Twitter.

What is the long-term plan for the cFund?

cFund aims to be the leading early-stage venture firm that invests primarily in Cardano blockchain based technologies besides becoming an integral part of the Cardano ecosystem. In line with IOG’s founding principle of cascading disruption, the idea that most of the structures that form global financial, governance and social systems are inherently unstable and thus minor perturbations can cause a ripple effect that fundamentally re-configures the entire system. cFund's goal is to identify and back technologies that force these perturbations together to push to a fair and transparent order for all stakeholders.

Thanks for your time, David.

Additional resources

  • cFund page
  • Wave Financial website
  • Cardano website

Wolfram and Cardano build communities with NFTs and liveminting

An inspiring look at the role of NFTs from Wolfram Blockchain Labs CEO Jon Woodard

22 July 2021 Jon Woodard 5 mins read

 Wolfram and Cardano build communities with NFTs and liveminting

As we emerge from the darkness of the pandemic, we can reconnect with our communities and re-focus on a shared vision for the future. We are at the cusp of a technological renaissance heralding new ways of forging strong connections. At Wolfram Blockchain Labs (WBL), we foresee a future where important moments can be forged, stored, and shared in real time to bring more communities together. The inspiration came from my recent trip to Bitcoin Miami 2021 where I attended the Cardano Meetup.

One of the best parts of my job as CEO of Wolfram Blockchain Labs is interacting with community members of our blockchain collaborators. When considering how the WBL ecosystem can become truly global and decentralized, I realized that decentralization is not just about changing technology. It is about changing how we interact with our communities while enabling new kinds of collaboration . 

We can now connect communities through global networks, while working independently and collectively towards a shared future. This was on full display at the Cardano Meetup in Miami. In that room, I saw Cardano supporters united by a shared belief. Communities like this will become the rule rather than the exception in the future. 

I was moved by everyone’s emphasis on building a global system to help individuals achieve financial independence for their families and communities. After witnessing the power of Cardano’s global community, I realized that this feeling of ‘togetherness’ is crystalized by non-fungible tokens (NFTs). Let me explain what I mean by this and what we’re going to do about it:

Experiencing NFTs

NFTs have sparked the global imagination in a way initial coin offerings (ICO)’s hype never did. Although the focus has largely been on speculation and cash value, the discussion has prompted the world to take a second look at decentralized systems, services, and applications. NFTs might feel like a fad, a bubble akin to tulip mania. However, at their heart, they are immutable, intractable representations of value and a unique identity.

Collectibles are a remarkable way of showing what one considers valuable while connecting the individual with their global community, the same way everyone at the Cardano Meetup was connected. This is hugely powerful. While many models currently celebrate the ephemeral and the transient, NFTs are about the timeless. When we enable communities to record and celebrate milestones like birthdays, graduations, or weddings we can draw people together around common goals and look towards a common future.

Liveminting with Wolfram Language and Cardano

Since January of 2021, WBL has been learning the nuances of Cardano and integrating the Cardano blockchain into the Wolfram Language. One of the most exciting places that we’re working with IOHK is in implementing NFT tools and auctions to bring to life, powered by Cardano. 

In an upcoming livestream event taking place on July 27th at 1:00 PM CT, Stephen Wolfram (CEO of Wolfram Research) and a panel of cultural critics will bring experiential NFTs to life in one of the world’s first ‘liveminting’ events — the process of minting (or processing) NFTs in real time on the Cardano blockchain. Liveminting will turn Wolfram’s Cellular Automata (items from the computational universe) into bespoke pieces of artwork certified into NFTs in real time. This will create a first-of-its-kind NFT.

This is only the beginning of the solutions from the work of WBL and IOHK. WBL will soon introduce the MintNFT function into the Wolfram Language, which uses the Cardano blockchain integration. You can get a more detailed explanation of the exciting work we have done in Wolfram Language by reading my Wolfram blog post.

NFT analytics, communities, creators, and brands

We believe that NFT makers and marketplaces will begin to thrive once they become generally accessible and understood. So, we are working on formalizing specific indicators and functions that will highlight analytics such as NFT performance and sales within a specific community. These analytics will not only give insight into the popularity of an NFT type, but also show how different types of NFTs can serve to draw community members together through shared experiences.

We see a future where creators of all types will be able to hold captivating liveminting events to highlight amazing experiences for their communities. Meanwhile, traditional brands increase connection and bolster a sense of belonging in the communities forming around their products. All of this will be powered by the Cardano blockchain and the Wolfram Language.

An incentive for belonging

Experiential NFTs and the inherent feeling of belonging will undoubtedly spur Cardano community members to create NFT experiences for others outside Cardano. Much like we have seen with the immediate impact of NFTs on popular culture, these experiences will serve to draw more people into our community. 

I’m excited that WBL is among the first to create these new NFT experiences. I am also excited to see what happens as we democratize these NFT tools so everyone can join in the fun. We believe that this will drive a global and social connection where users have more control over their creations, which will carry over as we democratize financial services.

Introducing the Catalyst Circle

The world’s largest decentralized innovation fund continues to evolve its governance and leadership model

8 July 2021 Kriss Baird 4 mins read

Introducing the Catalyst Circle

Project Catalyst has progressed at an incredible rate, doubling in almost every dimension from fund to fund since its launch. By any metric – from numbers of votes cast, funding available, or simply participants in our innovation processes – Catalyst is emerging as an invaluable fulcrum for Cardano’s future growth. Now, at the end of Fund 4, Project Catalyst has already proven to be a powerful experiment in collaboration and decentralized innovation.

With this explosive growth come unique challenges. Project Catalyst has a growing number of commitments to increasingly diverse functional groups of people who contribute to this step-change in collective intelligence. Specifically, community advisors, funded-proposers, stake pool operators (SPOs), and toolmakers & maintainers, all of whom contribute to the success and growth of Project Catalyst, and the success of Cardano itself.

Bringing more value

This increased diversification brings additional value to Project Catalyst, since it enables the formulation of ever more ideas and proposals. Equally, it will make communication among all these groups harder. Every cohort will need their voice to be heard, and their ideas and concerns discussed at project level.

Simply put, these groups need representation and trusted leadership acting on their behalf. If such representation is lacking, or missing altogether, the impact of Project Catalyst would be greatly diminished. This is why we're introducing the Catalyst Circle.

What is the Catalyst Circle?

The Catalyst Circle is a “human sensor array” acting as the representative body for all the different groups participating in Project Catalyst. The Circle that monitors the current state and future plans regarding governance in Catalyst. It detects and discusses concerns, objections and opportunities arising within the Catalyst ecosystem. The Circle might discuss, for example, the definition of amounts allocated to challenges Fund over Fund; changes or conditions to incentive parameters; the Catalyst API, etc.

By recording meetings and capturing actions in a backlog accessible to all, this activity will provide a view into the hopes, wants, needs, and concerns of the community within Project Catalyst. The Circle is also responsible for determining its own future shape and defining the election processes for Circle v2.

The Circle exists to fulfill four key goals:

  • To facilitate communication between the different functional groups
  • To provide a heads-up when red lines are crossed within a certain group
  • To suggest improvements on plans and processes that shape Project Catalyst
  • To define the election process for Circle V2

Member duties and responsibilities

Like Project Catalyst itself, the Circle will also evolve over time. Initially, elected members will serve 3-month terms, and elections will follow to continue improving and iterating the process. For elected members, we have identified these initial duties and responsibilities.

Each member of the Circle should:

  • Represent the community that selected them
  • Exercise their own best judgement about matters that come before the Circle
  • Familiarise other members with the projects, activities, aims, hopes, and concerns of their communities
  • Periodically take the opportunity to introduce policy proposals into the Circle’s agenda for consideration
  • Inform their communities about initiatives of the Circle

Each member also has the responsibility to:

  • Regularly attend meetings every two weeks
  • Maintain an agile backlog list to track issues between meetings
  • Review and comment on agenda issues ahead of time
  • Maintain awareness of the interests and concerns of their community
  • Disseminate the Circle’s outputs transparently and accessibly
  • Learn and practice effective meeting procedures
  • Produce an election protocol document for the next elections
  • Attend training sessions focused on inclusive and lean startup leadership techniques
  • Provide feedback on the effectiveness of the Circle

Leading and adapting

We have just held the first election for Catalyst Circle members in both Western & Eastern hemispheres, to include community members who couldn’t attend the regular weekly Town Hall. Members will be able to set each meeting’s agenda and periodically introduce policy proposals into the Catalyst Circle for consideration. The ‘minimal functional group’ is the bootstrapping version, based on consultations with leaders within the Catalyst community and Governance Alive, an expert group in the field of novel governance structures.

As trusted best practice is established, the Circle might grow and divide. Maybe the future has many ‘Circles’? Ultimately, it will be up to members to advance our goal to legitimise decentralized governance, paving the way for an alternative to the status quo, and continuing to break new ground in building the future of blockchain governance.

The Project Catalyst weekly Town Hall takes place each Wednesday at 18:00 UTC. Everyone is welcome to join. To learn more and get involved, be sure to join the Project Catalyst innovation community and its dedicated Telegram channel.