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Fund Rules

Introduction

Project Catalyst is a growth engine and a grants program for the Cardano ecosystem that has funding rounds every few months, with a set amount of ada ready to allocate to ideas. At the start of each Fund, members of the community submit proposals in response to categories published on the Project Catalyst platform. The community votes and funding is allocated to winning projects to bring the projects to life. For Fund 11, the following categories are available for proposal submissions:
  • Cardano Uses Cases: Concept, Solution, Product
  • Cardano Open: Developers (technical) & Ecosystem (non-technical)
  • Catalyst Systems Improvements: Discovery & Development
Each of these categories have their own relevant sub tracks. Full relevant detailed briefs can be found on the Project Catalyst platform.

Purpose of this document

These rules apply to each individual or entity participating in a project proposal, whether in a lead role, as co-proposer with other individuals/entities or as a project team member (“Applicants”) and other participants in Project Catalyst, including Community Reviewers and Community Moderators ( together “Catalyst Participants”). These rules reflect the mission of Project Catalyst to be of benefit to the Cardano ecosystem, learning from previous funding rounds of what works and what hasn’t been working so well to minimize potentially adverse and harmful outcomes.
All Catalyst Participants must comply at all times with these rules and any rules and additional terms set out within the challenges and general guidance made available by the Fund Operator.
Breach of these rules, whether at the proposal stage or during the course of the project may lead to suspension or termination of funding and rewards.

Eligibility criteria - Who can apply for funding?

Anyone with an idea that positively impacts the Cardano ecosystem can and may submit a proposal on the Project Catalyst platform, subject to the conditions set out in these Fund Rules.
(i) Applicants may only participate in a maximum of 5 Catalyst proposals across all categories. If an Applicant is included on more than 5 proposal submissions, only the first 5 published entries will be eligible for funding. This limit also applies to entities that are made up of the same teams/individuals and/or have the same key stakeholders involved in their management operating in a ‘family’ of related ventures. Proposals that fail to disclose accurate information about their Applicants may be disqualified;
(ii) Applicants must not be party or be directly involved in any active projects funded in Fund7 or prior. Any such outstanding projects must be successfully completed or closed out by following the procedures before the start of the Community Review stage in Fund11;
(iii) Applicants with 5 or more active projects funded in Fund8 or later are only eligible for funding if for each of their active projects, they have submitted at least 3 monthly reports in the 6 months preceding submission of a new proposal under Fund11;
(iv) No Catalyst Participant may be subject of any sanctions administered or enforced by the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (the “OFAC”), the United Nations Security Council (the “UNSC”), the European Union, Her Majesty’s Treasury (the “HMT”), or other relevant sanctions authority (collectively, “Sanctions”), or be located, organized or resident in a country or territory that is the subject of country-wide or territory-wide Sanctions.

Funding: What types of projects are funded by Project Catalyst?

Project Catalyst is aimed at helping a wide range of individuals, groups, or companies to grow by funding the best ideas that have the potential to positively impact the Cardano ecosystem. Applicants must ensure that their proposal and any material provided is not in breach of any applicable law, does not infringe any third party rights and does not contain or infringe any confidential or proprietary information.
Proposals must:
  • Be complete and accurate at the time of proposal submission;
  • Be for the betterment of the Cardano ecosystem;
  • Be ready to start the project once the Fund results are published;
  • Have an expected completion date at 2 to 12 months from award;
  • Identify at least 2 project milestones. Projects requesting ₳75,000 or more are expected to have more milestones than projects requesting less than ₳75,000; and
  • Be willing to publicly share monthly progress reports, evidence of achievement and outcomes with the community.
Project funding can be requested for various stages of technical innovation and software development, from feasibility studies through to developing and testing prototypes or fully fledged features. Proposals can be to develop a brand new product, service, technology-enabled process, or to take an existing technology product or service and further develop it beyond existing capabilities. Project Catalyst funding requests can also be focused on ecosystem and community-building activities, events, content, or social endeavors that help to onboard and educate new users about Cardano.
Key to all requests for funding proposals is that it is for the broad benefit of the Cardano ecosystem and there are well-defined deliverables and outcomes for each project that can be measurably verified by the Cardano community.

What can funding be used for?

Applicants will be required to self-certify that funding will be used exclusively for the development and implementation of their proposed project, and be broadly for the benefit of Cardano. The following is a list of examples of what Catalyst funding may be used for:
  • Labour & subcontracting costs (staffing to deliver the project)
  • Overheads (typically provision of computers, desks, office space, IT infrastructure and software services)
  • Materials costs (costs of materials to be used directly on your project are eligible costs, purchased from third parties)
  • Hackathon prizes
  • Bounty rewards
  • Travel costs
  • Venue hire and production costs
  • Training costs Market assessment and business intelligence
  • Licensing in technologies

How much funding can I ask for?

Applicants may only request funding in ada.
There is a minimum amount of funding that can be requested in a single Catalyst proposal - currently ₳15,000 per proposal. In the case of Cardano Uses Cases and Cardano Open categories, there is also a maximum funding limit per proposal. These are outlined in detail in each of their respective category briefs.
Minimum and maximum funding caps help drive the predictability of how many projects will likely be funded in a given round and support the estimation of ongoing costs for community-reviewers to participate in project accountability management, where the pool of community reviewers help to verify that milestones are being achieved and are rewarded for their contributions.
Introducing a minimum and maximum funding levels and maximum project length also helps to avoid scenarios whereby very large sums are approved without voters' confidence and truly understanding the feasibility of highly complex, multi-year technical projects or in cases where proposals request very small amounts of funding which cannot deliver genuine value to the Cardano ecosystem.
Funding is provided by way of a grant only. Proposals that request alternative funding arrangements such as loans, will be disqualified.

How long can my project be?

Projects must be capable of completing all Milestones within 12 months from project award.

What are the key steps of the funding process?

The funding cycle involves the following stages:
  • Innovation submission: Applicants submit initial proposals on Ideascale to address challenges. Community members share ideas and insights on Ideascale to help refine the proposals.
  • Community Review: Community Reviewers provide opinions about the proposal and rate it against the criteria which can be found in the Community Review guidelines.
  • Moderation: Community reviews are checked by moderators to make a determination whether reviews that were flagged by the Catalyst scripts should be published or discarded altogether.
  • Voting: Community members vote using the Project Catalyst voting app. Votes are weighted based on voter's ada token holding.
  • Results: Votes are tallied and the results published in a Fund Results guide.
  • On-boarding: Approved projects will undergo an onboarding procedure to ensure compliance with these rules. Funded projects will also be required to create a finalized Statement of Milestones schedule.
  • Funding: Projects receive funding along with further guidance. Regular reports to the community ensure funded projects are accountable to their voters.

How do I submit a proposal?

Project Catalyst relies on the ingenuity of a global network of participants. Proposals may be submitted by completing the Proposal Submission Form available here. Proposals may be initially submitted in draft form and finalized at any time before the final submission deadline. Proposals that are not complete by the final submission deadline will be archived.

What are the proposal requirements?

Proposals must be submitted via cardano.ideascale.com by completing the proposal Submission Form and demonstrating your proposed idea’s ‘impact’, ‘feasibility/capability’, and ‘value for money’. URLs and images can be embedded as part of the proposal submission.
Submitting the same proposal into multiple challenges or categories in the same funding round is not permitted and only the most recent submission will be considered. A project proposal can only be funded to deliver the project once. If a duplicate proposal or a separate proposal with the same deliverables is awarded, the Fund Operator will terminate one of the projects together with all future payments for that project with immediate effect.

What is the Review Process?

One of the roles of the Fund Operator is to ensure that these rules are complied with by all Project Participants. If proposals are submitted to the wrong category or evaluated to be in breach of these Fund Rules, the Fund Operator will require Applicants to resubmit their proposal to an alternative category or to withdraw their proposal, before Community Review ends. Applicants are strongly advised to match their proposals to suitable challenge briefs as much as possible or to seek guidance to avoid any surprises.
Proposals are also reviewed by Community Reviewers. These are members of the community who volunteer to provide their opinion and feedback on proposals in exchange for a fee. Community Reviewers play an important role in the Catalyst funding process by providing information which can be used by voters to inform their voting decisions. Community Reviewers also offer feedback to applicants by providing rationale for their scores. Watch this short video in the Related Content section on the Catalyst website to learn about becoming a Community Reviewer (formerly Proposal Assessor). Please note that the application form and community review criteria have changed since Fund9.
Community Reviewers will read a proposal and assign it a score between 1 and 5 for each of the 3 criteria (impact, feasibility/capability, and value for money). The individual scores across the three criteria will give an overall score for the proposal.
For each of the three criteria, Community Reviewers are required to give their opinion and rationale in English to explain the score that was given and to demonstrate the reason for doing so. A proposal may receive a low score for various reasons including if the Submission Form is not complete, the Applicant cannot be clearly identified or if the project does not fulfill these rules.
Community Reviewers should consider and provide feedback on the extent that proposals meet criteria on their own merits. Community Reviewers should only provide their own opinion. Their review should not be the work of others or an AI-agent acting on their behalf. If a Moderator believes that a Community reviewer’s reasoning does not correspond with the score given, the review will likely be discarded during the Community Review stage.

What is the role of Community Moderators?

The Fund Operator uses automated scripts to identify the following issues for review by Community Moderators:
  • A similarity script will be run by the Fund Operator looking for similarly worded reviews in the current fund and across previous funds. Generic reviews which do not address specific aspects of a proposal will be flagged and potentially discarded.
  • A length check will be completed. Reviews containing less than 150 characters for each individual criterion or less than 450 characters in total per review as a whole will be flagged and potentially discarded.
  • A plagiarism script will be run looking for similarly worded content from the internet. Reviews which do not address specific aspects of a proposal will be flagged and potentially discarded.
  • An artificial agent script will be run by the Fund Operator looking for content that is produced by an AI bot or agent. These reviews will be flagged and potentially discarded.
  • Reviews that display copy/pasting of templates without thoughtful contribution of value specific to the proposal will be flagged for review and potentially discarded.
Reviews that are flagged by the automated scripts are referred to Community Moderators for further assessment. Community Moderators may discard reviews which are not authentic and which do not comply with these rules and the Community Reviewers Guide.
An additional ‘spot check’ will be performed by Moderators, who will be provided with a small number of reviews made by community reviewers that were not flagged by scripts. This helps minimize potentially adverse behaviors, only discarding reviews which do not comply with these rules and the guidelines provided in the Community Reviewers Guideline.
The vast majority of reviews are people’s genuine opinions and these will be included in the voting process to help inform voters about the opinions of Community Reviewers. If a review is flagged there is likely a reason attributed to the flag and information about which reviews and reviewers were flagged and discounted will be published.
Appeals from Community Review Moderators (experienced reviewers) are not currently implemented.

How does voting work?

Voting in F11 will be a Yes/Abstain mechanic for all categories. No downvote option will be available. This change provides a simpler decision making procedure for voters sincerely expressing their preferences. Please refer to Fund11 Operating Parameters for more details.
Proposals are ranked by the number of Yes votes received from the community and funded one by one until that category budget is exhausted. If the amount requested by a proposal is larger than the remaining amount of funding in that category, it is skipped.
Any leftover funds will be used to fund the highest ranking projects across all categories except the Cardano Use Cases (product) category and both Catalyst Systems Improvement categories. This approach is intended to place greater focus on grassroot early stage projects instead of acceleration.

Who can vote on proposals?

On completion of the Community Review Stage, the community of ADA holders are given the opportunity to vote for their favorite proposals to receive Catalyst funding. Proposals will only receive funding if they garner sufficient votes from the community. Any ADA holder with a minimum of ₳500 can vote on a proposal by downloading the voting app from here. Votes are weighted depending on the amount of ada each voter has.

Where are voting results published?

Results of the community vote are published by the Catalyst team in a Voting Results Guide once the tally stage is complete.

On-boarding of Approved Proposals

If an application for funding is successful, Applicants will be notified by email of the steps to be completed as part of the onboarding procedure. The onboarding procedure is intended to confirm an Applicant’s compliance with these rules and any specific conditions of the grant, in addition to these rules, that the Applicant must follow. Applicants will also be required to submit a Statement of Milestones that sets out the milestone and deliverables to be accomplished by the Applicant during each stage of the project. The Statement of Milestones will be reviewed and approved by Milestone Reviewers. All proposals must include at least 2 milestones.
Applicants must complete the onboarding process before the project can start. Failure to complete the onboarding procedure within 90 days of award notification may result in the grant being withdrawn.

Payments and Reporting

Upon completion of the on-boarding process and verification of the Statement of Milestones, successful projects will receive an initial payment covering the first Milestone. All funded projects will be required to adhere to the Statement of Milestones set out in their proposal. Before funding for the next milestone is released, projects must provide evidence that the milestone for which they have already been paid has been achieved. This is known as Proof of Achievement (PoA). It is the responsibility of the lead applicant and funded-proposer’s team to submit Proof of Achievement to the community and the Catalyst team for verification and approval before funding for the next milestone is provided.
Each project will be required to submit a monthly report which documents that progress is being made on the project. The Catalyst team must be notified immediately if there are reasons why the project has paused or will not deliver what was voted for and approved by the community.
Failure to submit monthly progress reports may result in funding being suspended or terminated, as laid out in the public guidance that describes reasons why a project may be terminated*.
Before the final payment is released, successful Applicants must also provide a “Proof of Project” report and “Proof of Demonstration” video. Further details about the content and format of this documentation will be provided to each Applicant.
Project details, monthly progress reports, and Proof of Achievements will be published on the Catalyst Website at www.projectcatalyst.io and will be publicly available.
*From January 2024, Monthly Reports are no longer required: https://docs.projectcatalyst.io/fund-documentation/fund10-docs/funded-project-reporting-guideline/funded-projects-accountability-overview