The Emergence of Private Foundations in Science

May 13, 2012 | Posted by Piper in Outsourcing Trends |

The majority of scientific funding in the United States has traditionally come from government agencies and funding bodies.  Organizations such as the NIH, NSF, DOE, and DOD have provided a bulk of the funding, and continue to provide support for universities and lab groups.

And yet, much of government funding comes with red tape attached that is difficult for lab groups to control. Agencies often require a body of preliminary results before funding, and other times require a project to have translational applications beyond basic science. Only a select set of science verticals and projects even have funding available, given the incentive structures in government to fund popular areas or projects with immediate impact. And with federal budget cuts straining available scientific resources, the problem is only compounded.

It is in this culture that private foundations have taken up some of the slack and are increasingly funding basic science.  Projects without preliminary results, or otherwise considered high risk, are now finding a place amidst a growing volume of private foundations.  Profiled below are four such foundations: the Keck Foundation, Thiel Foundation, Research Corporation for Scientific Advancement, and The Kavli Foundation.

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