Protocol Labs Research
2020-03-26 / News, Grants
Protocol Labs launches a COVID-19 Open Innovation Grants program

In 2018, Protocol Labs launched a Request for Proposals program to support research in distributed systems, cryptography, and other areas of interest to our projects and company. To date, we have given over $500,000, with results made available to the public under open-source licenses. Other programs we fund have provided grants towards development efforts related to the libp2p, IPFS, and Filecoin ecosystems.

It is now 2020, and we have witnessed COVID-19 sweep the globe, resulting in over 462,000 confirmed cases and 20,000 lives lost so far. It has quickly reached most countries and caused disruption on an unprecedented scale.

Even as we watch our world grind to a halt, we have been inspired by the stories of programmers and researchers, builders and healthcare workers, engineers and all kinds of compassionate humans coming together to work on solutions to this crisis. These solutions have ranged from ventilators to face shields, PCR thermocyclers to contact tracing apps, strain mapping software to protein folding projects, among many others. Some of these projects are new; some have been around for years. Entire communities have been built from scratch to help organise these efforts.

Protocol Labs is not a biotech company, a pharmaceutical company, or a medical device company. Our direct contribution is limited. We are, however, firmly devoted to open innovation for the benefit of humanity. We are therefore committing $200,000 to an accelerated grants program supporting open innovation efforts contributing to improved technical solutions around testing, treatment, mitigation, and prevention of COVID-19 and future epidemics.

We hope to support a wide range of projects (software, hardware, tooling, modelling, computing, and others) involving either the development of new technology or the application of existing technologies to this challenge. We may also support platforms, communities, and competitions aiming to facilitate the development of such projects. Given the urgency of the situation, we will prioritise projects already in active development. We will also prioritise volunteer efforts.

For a project to be eligible, its progress and outcomes should be accessible to the broadest extent possible, e.g. by being dedicated to the public domain or released under a permissive license. Individual grants, given as one-time gifts, are expected to top out at $20,000, but we may consider larger amounts for especially impactful efforts. We have made the application and evaluation processes fast and lightweight so you can focus on the work you’re doing.

Note: this program has closed. You can read about our grant recipients here.