LabWeek Public Goods Charts Brighter Future in Funding, Sustainability and Decentralized Science 

Protocol Labs
Protocol Labs
LabWeek Public Goods Charts a Brighter Future in Funding, Sustainability and Decentralized Science

We recently announced that LabWeek (opens new window) was coming to the San Francisco Bay Area April 11-16, 2024 with a focus on public goods. LabWeek is our global decentralized conference series and in 2024, there will be three of them. Each one will be dedicated to one of Protocol Labs’ primary focus areas. The other two, to be announced later this year, will cover AI and Neurotech, and web3, including digital human rights.

But first, LabWeek Public Goods. Protocol Labs envisions a future where public goods plays a pivotal role in shaping the trajectory of web3 and common goods, in general. To that end, LabWeek Public Goods (opens new window) will be dedicated to topics in that field, such as public goods funding, decentralized science and sustainability.

LabWeek Public Goods will bring together experts to discuss how we can support essential resources for a better funded, sustainable and fairer digital future. As with all LabWeeks, there will be many events organized by PL teams, including Funding the Commons (opens new window) and Earth Commons (opens new window), which will deep dive into public goods funding and sustainability, respectively.

Protocol Labs has dozens of teams innovating in these pioneering areas (you can discover more about them in the PL Directory (opens new window)). In this blog post, we take a look at how many of them are progressing in this space.

# Innovations in Public Goods Funding

Public goods are very important to blockchain communities, playing a key role in improving the R&D pipeline. In his talk from Funding the Commons (opens new window) in 2021, Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin expounded on the role of public goods on the algorithms and mechanisms of blockchain communities, in particular.

More importantly, there are several models of public goods funding in the web3 landscape that are being implemented right now. Here are a few examples:

# Retroactive PGF: Rewarding a Solid Track Record

Retroactive public goods funding (RetroPGF (opens new window)) refers to the practice of providing financial support for a public good or service after it has already been produced or initiated. This approach encourages collaboration and contributions by allowing for an assessment of the outcomes before committing financial resources. This creates a goal-oriented process that is easier to measure. This space has already gained strong traction.

# Quadratic Funding: An Algorithmic Way to Raise and Distribute Capital

Quadratic funding leverages capital raised from two sources – matching partners and community donations – in a formula used to distribute a larger portion of funds to projects with more community support. This approach is designed to address the challenge of funding public goods by creating a more inclusive and democratic process that encourages diverse participation in supporting valuable projects that benefit the broader community.

  • This grassroots way of backing valuable projects has been used in recent projects, including Filecoin (opens new window)’s method of rewarding community contributors and creating incentives for the development of public goods.
  • Gitcoin (opens new window) has long been a proponent of quadratic funding, using the funding mechanism since its inception in 2017 to support popular entities like Uniswap (opens new window), one of the largest protocols in DeFi with over $400 billion in total trading volume.

Register at LabWeek Public Goods (opens new window) and regularly check the schedule (opens new window) for added events related to this space.

# Hypercerts: A Primitive for Impact Claims

Hypercerts (opens new window), a new primitive introduced at Funding the Commons (opens new window) in June 2022 (opens new window), offer an interoperable data layer for impact-funding, addressing impact claims and owner rights, providing flexibility in sale or award methods.

Network with members of Drips (opens new window), OS Observer (opens new window) and more at Funding the Commons (opens new window). The focus for the 8th edition of Funding the Commons will be on two areas of rapid innovation underpinning fundamental infrastructure for navigating the digital-physical commons: AI and the Open Web. Register (opens new window) for a ticket to FTC today.

# Sustainability in Public Goods

In the context of public goods, sustainability refers to the ability to maintain or continue providing essential public goods over the long term without depleting resources or causing significant harm to the environment or society. Achieving sustainability in public goods funding involves several key aspects:

# Financial sustainability: Securing stable funding sources

Identifying stable funding sources is key to securing a fair and long-term means of supporting sustainability in public goods. Traditional sources include taxes, user fees, grants, or philanthropic donations for public goods provision. Novel funding mechanisms are being explored and employed by teams across PL’s ecosystem.

# Environmental sustainability: Public goods without harming the environment

Thought needs to be put into the provision of public goods in a way that does not harm the environment or deplete natural resources. This could involve implementing sustainable practices in resource management, such as using renewable energy sources or adopting eco-friendly technologies.

# Social sustainability: Promotes equity, inclusion, and cohesion

Ensuring that the provision of public goods promotes social equity, inclusion and cohesion within society. This may involve engaging communities in decision-making processes, addressing the needs of marginalized or vulnerable groups, and promoting social cohesion through collaborative initiatives.

Book your ticket to Earth Commons here (opens new window).

# Decentralized Science

Decentralized science (DeSci) offers a promising alternative to traditional models of scientific research and funding that often face replication issues, an intensive review process and high cost of publishing. DeSci, on the other hand, offers the potential to democratize access to knowledge, accelerate innovation, foster trust and transparency and address pressing global challenges in a more inclusive and sustainable manner.

Key features of decentralized science in the context of public goods funding include:

# Open access to research findings, data, and methodologies

Open access allows for greater transparency and collaboration among researchers, as well as broader dissemination of knowledge to the public.

# Distributed funding to diversify funding sources

Decentralized science seeks to diversify funding sources, rather than relying solely on traditional funding mechanisms such as government grants or academic institutions. This may involve crowdfunding campaigns, where individuals contribute small amounts of money to support specific research projects, as well as innovative funding models like tokenomics and decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs).

# Blockchain technology for secure and transparent transaction recording and verification

Blockchain technology plays a significant role in facilitating DeSci by providing secure and transparent mechanisms for recording transactions, verifying identities, and tracking the provenance of research data. Smart contracts can be used to automate funding agreements and ensure that funds are distributed according to predetermined criteria.

Register at LabWeek Public Goods (opens new window) and be sure to check out the DeSci events, including the DeSci Meetup and Science Advancement Opportunities.

# Get Ready: LabWeek Public Goods

Many of these projects listed above started at events or as conversations within the Protocol Labs ecosystem. These sorts of deep conversations and collaboration between researchers, academia, institutional funders, deep thinkers and more are critical to advancing the movement in public goods. Experimentation with network funding structures, impact certificates, and other novel mechanisms is crucial to evolve these concepts into practical, efficient tools for improving public goods. If you’re interested in learning more about this space or want to engage with the public goods community, join us at LabWeek Public Goods.

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