StarkWare, the firm behind layer 2 blockchain network Starknet, announced Tuesday the introduction of a $1 million grant fund dedicated toward researching Bitcoin’s OP_CAT proposal. StarkWare’s fund is a new move aimed at scaling Bitcoin “to many thousands of transactions per second,” per a blog post by StarkWare CEO Eli Ben-Sasson.

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According to a statement shared with Unchained, StarkWare is not only preparing to have “ready-to-roll practical plans” the moment OP_CAT is approved but is also committed to establishing a seven-figure fund to promote research into OP_CAT’s benefits and its potential routes to adoption. For StarkWare, the approval of OP_CAT is a preliminary step to incorporating its ZK technology into Bitcoin.

“Once OP_CAT is adopted on Bitcoin, implementing a STARK verifier in Bitcoin Script becomes a reality. This opens a path to move safely and self-custodially between Bitcoin and Starknet, creating a single Layer 2 to scale both Ethereum and Bitcoin,” wrote Ben-Sasson.

StarkWare’s announcement comes roughly eight months after two developers, Ethan Heilman and Armin Sabouri, created a Bitcoin Improvement Proposal (BIP) to reintroduce OP_CAT as an opcode for Tapscript, the programming language used to script Taproot-enabled Bitcoin transactions. 

Learn more: What Is the OP_CAT Bitcoin Improvement Proposal?

Satoshi Nakamoto initially included OP_CAT to join two data points in the Bitcoin code stack, but sunsetted it in 2010, because, at the time, a malicious actor could take advantage of the function to conduct a denial of service (DoS) attack. However, the 2021 Taproot upgrade included a change that would prevent a user from using OP_CAT to conduct a DoS attack, thus making it possible to reintroduce the function without risk. 

StarkWare is not the only team aimed at supporting the Bitcoin OP_CAT proposal. Taproot Wizards, a Bitcoin-focused Ordinals project, released a non-fungible token collection called “Quantum Cats” in Feb. 2024 to support the restoration of the OP_CAT scripting function. 

“StarkWare is often mistaken for being an Ethereum maxi, though actually we are scaling maxis. We’re mass-use maxis,” said Ben-Sasson. “We’re supporting OP_CAT because we believe Bitcoin should play a more central role in society and we believe that the OP_CAT Bitcoin soft fork is the safest path for Bitcoin to scale.”