Leading Web3 companies launch $7M challenge to advance zero-knowledge technology

A coalition of 32 leading companies, foundations, and funds have joined forces to launch ZPrize, an industry-sponsored contest offering $7 million in prizes to accelerate zero-knowledge cryptography.

Modeled after the famous XPrize competitions that used private contributions to fuel advances in spaceflight and ocean health, ZPrize will see teams compete for awards by engineering new algorithms and techniques to advance existing zero-knowledge systems.

Big names unite for zero-knowledge tech

ZPrize was created to support the development necessary to extend the future of blockchain and accommodate more mainstream use cases for the technology.

Alex Pruden, the COO of Aleo and the founder of the ZPrize Initiative, told CryptoSlate that the contest would provide the industry with the foundation it needs to scale into the mainstream. According to Pruden:

“The goal of the ZPrize is to spur a quantum leap in zero-knowledge cryptography that so many Web3 protocol and application developers are waiting for to enable their products to scale to millions.”

He added that:

“The sponsors of ZPrize not only represent an industry but a united community of believers in this technology. We share a collective desire to turn these exciting academic ideas into a deployed reality. With the ZPrize, we’re advancing the state-of-the-art to form the bricks of the technological foundation that will scale and secure the next-generation web.”

Almost two dozen companies have joined the initiative as sponsors, including Algorand, Celo, Consensys, Ethereum Foundation, Harmony One, Matter Labs, Polychain Capital, and Polygon.

Teams will compete across various categories that sponsors have identified as important for practical applications of zero-knowledge systems. Submissions will be judged against existing technical benchmarks, with the most significant improvements getting the best rewards. Winners of the competition will open-source their challenge solution so that the entire community can access them, the ZPrize Initiative said.

The implications of zero-knowledge technology go way beyond just the Web3 industry. Legacy tech companies have recognized the importance of systems like these and are beginning to take a more active role in supporting and developing the sector. AMD, the world’s leading chip manufacturer, is one such legacy company and will provide hardware for the contest.

The ZPrize Initiative said one of the most promising approaches for scaling zero-knowledge technology is to use specialized hardware like field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs). AMD will provide cutting-edge hardware — like its Varium C1100 blockchain accelerator card — to competing teams in the contest to develop solutions.

Hamid Salehi, the director of product marketing at AMD, told CryptoSlate that incorporating zero-knowledge cryptography in a blockchain platform is critical for widespread adoption of the technology but comes with a significantly increased compute workload.

“FPGAs are uniquely positioned to accelerate the zero-knowledge protocol efficiently, at the hardware level, to create scalable blockchain solutions. AMD-Xilinx is proud to support the ZPrize competition with our FPGA-based accelerators to enable the community to create innovative solutions that help advance zero-knowledge technology.”

The contest will begin on May 15.

ZPrize sponsors include, in alphabetical order, 0xPARC, Aleo, Algorand, Anoma, Aztec Protocol, Celo, CoreWeave, DZK, Espresso Systems, Ethereum Foundation, Findora, Harmony One, Kora, Manta Network, Mina Protocol, Matter Labs, the Polkadot Pioneers Prize, Polychain Capital, Polygon, RISC0, Trapdoor Tech, Zero Knowledge Validator

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