While Fantom, Harmony, Avalanche and Celo have all launched nine-figure ecosystem development funds, NEAR may be setting a new high water mark with the launch of a mammoth $800 million grants fund.
Announced Monday, the high-speed and self-styled “climate neutral” chain has established the fund with major tranches earmarked for specific purposes, including $250 million in ecosystem grants which will be distributed over four years, a regional fund of $100 million, and $100 million specifically for startups.
Additionally, DeFi is a major focus of the program, with a devoted $350 fund from Proximity Labs. A newly-formed ‘DeFi DAO’ will govern how those funds are spent, and protocols will be able to apply for liquidity mining programs via the DAO. Proximity is a group of early NEAR contributors that spun out of the parent company as an independent entity with funding from the NEAR Foundation.
In an interview with CoinDesk, NEAR co-founder Illia Polosukhin said that the program has already distributed $45 million in funds this year, with a particular focus on early-stage ecosystem building blocks.
“A lot of the projects so far have been infrastructure,” Polosukhin said. “Croncat allows the ability to send transactions at different times, Cartosis is testing smart contracts – so supporting new programming languages, supporting storage, so a lot of it was, ‘what are the building blocks we need to unlock exponential composability?’”
Earlier in October, ecosystem project Aurora raised $12 million to enable Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) contracts on the NEAR blockchain, what may be the first step towards a full DeFi ecosystem.
Read more: NEAR’s Aurora Raises $12M to Expand Ethereum Layer 2 Network
“Before there was the feeling that you had to pull the ecosystem, but now the ecosystem is pulling you,” Polosukhin said. “Now it’s time for the DeFi money legos spawn.”