Incentive programs are defined as any collection of funds that are awarded based on development of new ecosystem projects, current project ports, or weighted performance (usually measured by TVL). Incentive programs typically have an expectation that there is some kind of return on investment or equity given as part of the funds being disbursed.
Incentives Programs may include funding and support from a variety of sources including Venture Capital (crypto native or traditional) foundations, and/or protocol specific liquidity incentives. The incentives are sometimes quantified in native tokens specific to the network or DAO who distributes them or may be $USD or some stablecoin equivalent. These programs could also come with additional requirements on recipients including equity share and may have value add accelerator programs attached (usually in the case of VC.)
Incentives programs may be governed in a programmatic way where incentives are automatically dispersed based on specific criteria or they may be governed by a formal process of review and approval that requires human interaction on proposal review and allocation of funds.