I’d love for a billionaire to offer 18-25 year-olds, $25k for a summer to explore new projects.
You could fund 1000 kids with promising projects for $25 million.
If the next great innovation will start as a toy, we need to encourage people to make more toys.
- There are three Allen Institutes (Brain Science, Cell Science, and AI), funded by Microsoft's Paul Allen in Seattle.
- The Gates Foundation (also funded by Microsoft, I guess) funds research, though mostly at existing institutes.
- The Howard Hughes Memorial Institute funds a bunch of research at its Janelia Farms Campus, plus provides lavish support investigators at universities.
- Eli and Ethyl Broad put up about $700M to endow the Broad Institute at Harvard/MIT.
- The Michael J Fox foundation funds a lot of Parkinson's Disease research.
- Chan Zuckerberg Initiative
- Simons Foundation
- Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation
- Sloan Foundation
You can even put companies like Numenta on this list, which is pretty much blue sky research, even if nominally for profit
I was actually just looking at a job posting at the Simons Foundation, which makes its omission that much more embarrassing. The Schwartz Foundation also paid for some stuff (and a lot of pizza) in grad school,so I should give them a nod! CZI and Simons/Flatiron have their own buildings. I think GBM and Sloan are more grant-making organizations.
There's also DE Shaw Research, which is particularly interesting since the billionaire in question works there himself.
More of a mashup of the MacArthur and Thiel Fellowships.
Of course there are lots of problem with academic culture, like overemphasis on maximizing citation count. But the setup you describe will also require some form of simple metric to track progress- to ensure that 25k isn't going down the drain.
Proper staff scientist jobs would help break out of this mould and might even be more cost-effective by reducing churn in the lab and providing people with more guidance.
Maybe. I don't think MacArthur tracks the spending of their Fellowship (a much larger amount).
==According to the foundation's website, "the fellowship is not a reward for past accomplishment, but rather an investment in a person's originality, insight, and potential". The current prize is $625,000 paid over five years in quarterly installments. This figure was increased from $500,000 in 2013 with the release of a review of the MacArthur Fellows Program. Since 1981, 942 people have been named MacArthur Fellows, ranging in age from 18 to 82. The award has been called "one of the most significant awards that is truly 'no strings attached'".==
This sounds like a form of suvivorship bias. If you know which research pans out it wouldn't be research. You need to also include the cost of research done by other companies that led to nothing or something less impactful.