New R&D Funding

This year, IBO begins a rotating feature highlighting new R&D funding announcements that can be expected to impact scientific research and, consequently, stimulate instrument and lab product purchases.

The Breakthrough Energy Coalition, a coalition of business and research investment leaders announced in December 2016, the formation of the Breakthrough Energy Ventures fund with over $1 billion in funding. The investments will fund clean energy development, including research. The fund plans to work with public and private partners. The Coalition stated, “The only way to provide everyone in the world with access to reliable and affordable energy, food, goods and services without emitting greenhouse gas is through broad public and private investment into a landscape of innovation focused on developing new technologies.” The Coalition’s “Landscape of Innovation” document lays out “technical quests” in five areas: electricity, transportation, agriculture, manufacturing and buildings. Among the cited projects are “lightweight materials and structures” and biomass. Details about investments and the funding’s release have not yet been announced.

Private funding was also behind several major announcements funding disease research and treatment. The health sciences–focused University of California San Francisco (UCSF) announced in January the receipt of a $500 million gift, the largest in its history, from the Helen Diller Foundation. One hundred million dollars will go towards the new Innovation Fund, a discretionary fund to support research termed high risk and high reward. “These funds will seed areas that will redefine the future of healthcare and could support priorities ranging from genomic surgery to cell engineering, from immunotherapy to microbiome research, and from neuro-technology to next-generation diagnostics for infectious and inflammatory diseases,” stated UCSF Chancellor Sam Hawgood. Of the remaining amount, $200 million is allocated to an endowment for faculty and $200 million will fund an endowment to support students.

A $50 million donation to City of Hope, a nonprofit research center and hospital, from the Wanek Family Project and anonymous donors will fund a six-year goal to develop a cure for type 1 diabetes. The organization’s Diabetes & Metabolism Research Institute will utilize the funding to develop immunotherapy approaches, with a focus on immune modulation, beta cell expansion and replacement, and preventing complications from the disease,

In December 2016, the University of Texas at Austin announced the receipt of a $75 million donation for the Mulva Family Foundation. Three-quarters of the donation will be used to establish the Mulva Clinic for Neurosciences, a neurology center for both research and treatment, located at the University’s Dell Medical School. The remaining $25 million will fund the MD Anderson Cancer Center’s melanoma and prostate cancer research projects.

Outside the US, the World Bank announced this month a four-year $45 million loan to build science and innovation in Peru. The money will increase capacity at CONCYTEC (the National Science and Technology Council) as well as be used to fund research at universities and companies, including equipment purchases. Other goals include supporting the FONDECYT (the National Science and Technology Fund), and upgrading research capacity and evaluation at the country’s major research bodies and universities.


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