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US Government Backs Decentralized Energy Grid With $1 Million Grant

The U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) has announced it will award a grant of nearly $1 million to a blockchain startup in a move aimed to advance the development of a decentralized energy grid.

The Colorado-based Grid7 is one of 95 grant recipients announced by the DoE on Monday, which all won the second phase of the department’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. The grants are intended to fund the projects over a period of two years.

According to the DoE, Grid7 is being awarded $999,363, which is part of the total $95 million that the DoE will grant to small businesses across 26 U.S. states in a bid to advance the country’s energy sector using new technologies.

Based on data from the SBIR program, Grid7, with its three-person team, already received a grant of around $150,000 in 2017 through the program’s first phase.

The DoE explained that startups which “demonstrated technical feasibility for innovations during their Phase I grants competed for funding for prototype or processes development during Phase II.”

According to Grid7’s website, the project aims to develop a decentralized solar power system that can share energy data from homes, buildings and electric grids in a distributed manner. The goal is to improve power supply efficiency and provide security against cyber-attacks, the DoE added.

The energy department’s effort comes as lawmakers in Colorado state working to build a more blockchain-friendly environment.

As reported by CoinDesk in January, the Colorado Senate introduced a bill to allow for use of blockchain tech in replacing the state’s existing data collection and maintenance processes, a move aimed to achieve higher levels of data security.

The bill was subsequently approved by the Senate in May and later took effect following the governor’s final signature.

Electric grid image via Shutterstock

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Blockstack Fund to Give Crypto Social Networks $1 Million Boost

Decentralized web developer Blockstack has earmarked $1 million to fund decentralized social networks projects, the company announced on Thursday.

While developers will determine the particular nature of their projects, the firm hopes the grants will encourage a variety of usable dapps oriented toward the preservation of digital rights, privacy and user choice.

“We’re really looking for the best teams to build applications on top of Blockstack that have the highest likelihood of getting widespread user adoption,” the company’s co-founder, Ryan Shea told CoinDesk in an interview.

Shea explained:

“This is about bringing real value to end users. There is a lot of speculation in the space, there is a lot of talk and hype and not enough real things getting built that touch people’s lives.”

The initiative, he said, was borne out of a desire to incentivize developers to build alternatives to major social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

In the wake of incidents such as the Cambridge Analytica scandal, he said, “We knew it was the right time for a lot of these social networks to gain traction.”

The company has specifically suggested that developers pursue features like uncensorable microblogs and community-curated blocklists among others. Likewise, it proposed that developers could create dapps targeted toward illness support groups, journalists and activists under authoritarian regimes, and LGBT communities, for example.

However, Shea said Blockstack doesn’t intend for these ideas to “confine people,” but instead hopes they will provide a point of departure for further exploration.

Additionally, he suggested that the funding will act as a stepping stone for developer teams, helping them to subsist until they are able to raise venture capital.

The grants will be only one source of financing for developer teams. They will also have the option to build monetization into their dapps via a rewards system that is embedded in the Blockstack protocol.

“Every single application that’s built on Blockstack will be eligible for these rewards and they will be eligible proportional to their ratings,” Shea explained.

He added that Blockstack’s support for social network dapps will be ongoing, noting:

“We really want to empower those teams.”

Social network concept image via Shutterstock

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Blockchain Startup Protocol Labs Launches $5M Research Grant Program

Blockchain developer Protocol Labs has launched a multi-million dollar research grant program.

The startup, which is behind projects such as Filecoin, IPFS and Coinlist, on Tuesday announced a Request for Proposals (RFP) program that will see an initial $5 million put towards research efforts. Successful bids will receive grants between $5,000 and $200,000, the company said in a statement on its blog.

Protocol Labs explained:

“The first RFPs solicit improvements to components used in Filecoin and a breakthrough that may dramatically simplify consensus protocol including Filecoin’s. Future RFPs will fund problems across our whole stack of protocols, from Multiformats to Filecoin, and we also welcome open problems and suggestions for work we may be interested in funding.”

The firm listed a number of projects on its Github page for developers to look into as a starting point. However, “Due to the open-ended nature of these problems, it’s worth noting that we may end up choosing more than one proposal per open problem,” it stated.

Research applications will be judged on the quality of the proposed research and relevant experience of the individual or team. Completed solutions are not eligible to apply, states the post.

Solutions must be open source, and therefore accessible to the broader developer community.

To support the effort, the company further announced it is hosting meetups and other events to help facilitate discussion around the technical problems that need solving to improve the space. Further, if the scheme proves successful, Protocol Labs hopes to expand the program in future.

Miniatures and coins image via Shutterstock

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.