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Schmidt Futures Launches Schmidt Futures Network with First Initiative “Convergent Research”

The Schmidt Futures Network’s first initiative, Convergent Research, will incubate and launch Focused Research Organizations, a new model to fill gaps in the R&D ecosystem to tackle global challenges

Today, Schmidt Futures is pleased to announce the launch of the Schmidt Futures Network. The Schmidt Futures Network aims to help talent already supported by Schmidt Futures to scale some of the most promising early-stage initiatives by building a broader coalition of partners and diversifying their funding sources. Through the Network, we will provide new and supplemental pathways for exceptional people to create an even larger impact in the world.

The first initiative of the Network, also launching today, is Convergent Research. Convergent Research is designed to solve gaps in the R&D ecosystem by identifying high-impact scientific or technological research and development opportunities, then defining and launching these projects as Focused Research Organizations (FROs).

There are a number of global challenges that cannot be efficiently addressed by the existing organizational structures of academia, industry, or government. This is especially true in the areas of brain mapping, climate technology, biological tool and reagent development, data generation for preventative medicine, novel antibiotic development, nanofabrication, and more. 

That’s why Adam Marblestone, a Schmidt Futures Innovation Fellow, and Sam Rodriques proposed the idea of Focused Research Organizations in September 2020. FROs are created solely to solve scientific and technological challenges that require the systematic scale, unity, and purpose of a startup, while also solving problems in fundamental research for the public benefit. They will function like fast-moving startups with a CEO, but don’t need to generate short-term profits, allowing for greater coordination and scale to tackle moonshot ideas. 

The Schmidt Futures Innovation Fellows program makes early bets on mid-career individuals, like Marblestone, with ambitious ideas for how technology can positively advance society. Now, Schmidt Futures is taking a bigger bet on his idea, as we believe it is a compelling way to break through the bottlenecks that exist in traditional university, private sector, and government structures to create world-changing innovations. 

The first Convergent Research FROs will include:

  • E11 bio: A Convergent Research FRO supported by the Schmidt Futures Network on brain mapping technology; established to develop tools for understanding how the brain is wired in order to mitigate disease and accelerate brain science.
  • Cultivarium: A Convergent Research FRO supported by the Schmidt Futures Network for synthetic biology in non-model organisms; established to make the world’s diverse microorganisms accessible for use in beneficial synthetic biology technologies. 

To read more about the Schmidt Futures Network and Convergent Research, read the article in Fast Company here.

To work with Convergent Research, visit its website here.

To connect with our team about supporting Focused Research Organizations, please contact info@convergentresearch.org