Filecoin accelerator program explores frontier of ‘compute on data’

In a period when venture funding is relatively scarce, hackathons and accelerator programs are a prime way for budding developers teams to get rolling and draw attention.

Longhash Ventures’ Web3 accelerators arm, LongHashX, a veteran at running the latter, announced Thursday the details of its next cohort building on Filecoin.

Partnering with Filecoin’s research and development company, Protocol Labs, the “FVM Genesis Cohort” focuses on the Filecoin Virtual Machine, or FVM, which invites decentralized app (dapp) developers familiar with Ethereum and the EVM.

Filecoin’s FVM launched in March, but Protocol Labs and LongHash have jointly run three prior accelerator cohorts since 2020.

Longhash is a devotee of the multichain thesis, according to chief operating officer Stefano Bury.

“One of the critical components of that is decentralized storage and hence we love the Filecoin ecosystem and we love to invest in venture building — in teams that are building in that space,” Bury told Blockworks.

The global, fully remote accelerator program will start in mid-October and is accepting applications until Sept. 30. Five teams will be selected to receive $200,000 in funding in exchange for a 4% equity stake. 

The program also includes a 12-week curriculum, mentorship and access to LongHash’s network of founders and investors.

A concurrent Builders’ Fellowship Program will select 20 to 25 projects and offer technical and developer support from Protocol Labs alongside workshops and mentoring sessions with LongHashX Venture Builders.

New focus on AI

The latest cohort is expected to focus largely on use cases related to artificial intelligence (AI), DeFi, and decentralized social.

One example with an AI hook is the burgeoning field of prompt engineering — for example, how users direct AI models such as Stable Diffusion to produce a desired output.

Sarah Thiam, Protocol Labs’ developer experience lead, told Blockworks that a “prompt marketplace” — a type of “data DAO” — is a likely product candidate for the Filecoin ecosystem.

“If you’ve used Stable Diffusion or use ChatGPT, sometimes you want a very specific outcome,” Thiam told Blockworks, “Images are tricky, so if you want something super nuanced — if you have created the perfect prompt — you could actually have that stored in a prompt marketplace.”

Filecoin recently championed a data DAO starter kit, which Thiam explained can be used to govern a set of data, stored on IPFS, for use in AI processes.

There will also be a need for basic DeFi primitives like bridges, decentralized exchanges and liquidity pools, which Ruben Amenyogbo with Protocol Lab’s Builders Fund and FILVC described as “table stakes.” But he’s more interested in dapps that only make sense on Filecoin.

The accelerator is part of the third step in Filecoin’s “master plan,” Amenyogbo said. After building the world’s largest decentralized storage network with over 13 exabytes of capacity, the team has been focused on filling that storage space with usable data.

“What can you do with all that data that is stored there, using the novel things that only blockchain allows us to do — that is step number three,” Amenyogbo said.

Coming out of the accelerator, he’s expecting to see “a number of pioneers that are going to bring use cases that need a new name.”

“What do you call a collective that is going to store and monetize genetics data in a decentralized way — what do you even call that?” Amenyogbo said. “I don’t know, but I want to see it.”

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