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Here are additional answers to questions we’ve received:
Question: Is fundamental science of interest to this mechanism of funding?
Answer: Our primary mission for this funding is translational in nature, aiming to be a bridge towards something impactful. Whether a project is applied or purely theoretical isn’t as significant as the ambition and the ability to de-risk efforts. If there’s foundational understanding that could lead to applications or addresses an open need in an application space, that would be in scope.
Question: How does this funding support ambitious efforts in the field?
Answer: We aim to de-risk ambitious experiments and provide a bridge to what could be downstream funding. If your project is in an early stage and can lead to a mature project or another significant outcome, that aligns with our goals.
Question: Is the funding purely for research or can it cover salaries as well?
Answer: While the emphasis is on lean thinking and being experiment-focused, we understand that for individuals to dive into projects, they might need a salary. Thus, a reasonable salary component in the budget is acceptable.
Question: How are you evaluating the projects based on their budget?
Answer: We do factor in the budget when making the final decision. All else equal, a project with a lower budget is preferred. Projects with higher budgets will need to demonstrate greater possible value.
Question: How do you view “blue sky” or risky projects?
Answer: We value innovative approaches and transformative ideas. While it’s essential to be grounded in scientific principles, we appreciate the ambition behind transformational concepts that might seem like they’re “jumping into the unknown.”
Question: Can a grad student apply or lead up the group for a project?
Answer: Yes, grad students can apply. We encourage grad students to take the initiative and advocate for their projects, ensuring that it’s clear it’s being pursued within the context of your lab.
Question: How do you define if something is beneficial for the environment, given the complexities of certain subjects like lab-grown meat?
Answer: The subtlety of defining a problem statement is crucial. It’s about convincing readers that a given issue is significant.
Also, even if solutions like lab-grown meat may have divided opinions, our core review team contains diverse viewpoints. Our decision-making process is not consensus-based, so if a core review team member feels strongly that a project is valuable, it doesn’t need buy-in from other members in order to be funded..
Question: When applying for funding, how much preliminary data is expected for a project?
Answer: While having some preliminary data can be beneficial, it’s not a strict requirement. The primary goal is to fund projects that might not receive funding elsewhere and help de-risk ideas. Part of that means funding projects that haven’t yet generated much data. However, if you’re in the early stages of a project and you have initial data showing potential, that’s welcomed.
Question: What will happen if different groups or individuals present similar proposals?
Answer: While it’s possible for multiple applications to address the same problem statement, we aim to treat them all independently during the review process.
Question: How are you ensuring equitable distribution of grants?
Answer: Our aim is to be additional, preferring to fund projects that may not receive funding elsewhere. For example, projects from less-resourced labs might receive higher priority than ones from well-established mega labs.
Question: Are purely in silico (computational) projects eligible for funding?
Answer: Yes, we’re open to funding purely in silico projects as long as the problem statement clearly explains why the in silico work contributes to advancing a frontier sustainability challenge.