- A new venture fund is offering grants of $10,000 to $500,000 to coronavirus researchers, and every grant decision will be made in less than 48 hours.
- The fund, Fast Grants, has raised $10 million from 10 backers including Paul Graham, Stripe cofounders John and Patrick Collison, and LinkedIn cofounder Reid Hoffman.
- Backers say they were inspired by the World War II-era National Defense Research Committee, which sidestepped traditional grant approval processes to fund scientific research quickly.
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A group of tech entrepreneurs and venture capitalists have committed $10 million to COVID-19 research, aiming to sidestep the lengthy grant approval process that academics typically face.
The fund promises “Fast Grants” of $10,000 to $500,000 that will go to researchers that focus on coronavirus prevention and treatment. Starting April 12, every grant application will be approved or denied in less than 48 hours, after which researchers will receive payment “as quickly as your university can receive it.”
Backers include Y-Combinator cofounder Paul Graham, billionaire entrepreneur brothers John and Patrick Collison, and venture capitalist Reid Hoffman, among other entrepreneurs and VCs. The grants will be administered by George Mason University’s Emergent Ventures.
Typically, the grant approval process for academics can take months or years — but the Fast Grants fund prioritizes speed.
“Science funding mechanisms are too slow in normal times and may be much too slow during the COVID-19 pandemic. Fast Grants are an effort to correct this,” the fund’s website says. “We’ll prefer projects that are cheap (so that our fund dollars go further) and that will yield results quickly (during COVID-19, days matter).”
The fund was inspired by the National Defense Research Committee, an organization created during World War II that aimed to fund emergency scientific research as quickly as possible. From 1940 to 1941, it allocated $6.5 million, or over $120 million when adjusted for inflation.
Researchers can apply at the Fast Grants website.