Near Protocol Offers $800M in Grants in Bid for DeFi Mindshare

Amid a spree of mammoth layer 1 incentive programs, Near has raised the bar in sheer size.

AccessTimeIconOct 25, 2021 at 9:45 p.m. UTC
Updated May 11, 2023 at 3:38 p.m. UTC

While the Fantom, Harmony, Avalanche and Celo blockchains 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.

The high-speed and self-styled “climate neutral” chain announced Monday that it has established the fund with major tranches earmarked for specific purposes, including:

  • $250 million in ecosystem grants that will be distributed over four years
  • A regional fund of $100 million
  • $100 million specifically for startups

Additionally, decentralized finance (DeFi) is a major focus of the program, with a devoted $350 million 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.

Near readies for prime time

In an interview with CoinDesk, Near co-founder Illia Polosukhin said 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, in what may be the first step towards a full DeFi ecosystem.

“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.”

Near launched in April 2020 following token sales from high-profile backers including Andreessen Horowitz and Pantera Capital.

Disclosure

Please note that our privacy policy, terms of use, cookies, and do not sell my personal information has been updated.

CoinDesk is an award-winning media outlet that covers the cryptocurrency industry. Its journalists abide by a strict set of editorial policies. In November 2023, CoinDesk was acquired by the Bullish group, owner of Bullish, a regulated, digital assets exchange. The Bullish group is majority-owned by Block.one; both companies have interests in a variety of blockchain and digital asset businesses and significant holdings of digital assets, including bitcoin. CoinDesk operates as an independent subsidiary with an editorial committee to protect journalistic independence. CoinDesk employees, including journalists, may receive options in the Bullish group as part of their compensation.

Andrew Thurman

Andrew Thurman was a tech reporter at CoinDesk with a focus on DeFi.


Read more about