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Idea Machines

Jun 17, 2019

Cindy Wu and Denny Luan are the founders of - a platform that allows anybody to request funding for a science project and anybody to fund them. It's fascinating because it stands completely outside of the grant funding and publication system that drives most science today. In this podcast we discuss how the current system prevents the creating of new fields, why science communication may be even more important that science funding, and new models for company governance. 

Key Takeaways

  • The incentives built into the grant system make it hard for new fields to emerge
  • Arguably, changing how science is communicated might have the biggest impact on our knowledge creation system.
  • The concept of ownership and governance of companies being two separate axes that need to be considered separately


The Science of Science Funding

DIY biohackers trying to see infrared with vitamin A


Public benefit corporation

Purpose Trusts

Wellcome Trust/Foundation

Employee Owned Breweries


  • Consolidation and risk aversion in science
  • Hard to fund research outside of funding buckets
  • Field politics
  • Hard for younger scientists to get funding
  • NIH budget stayed the same, proposals have doubled
  • Government funds what's popular
  • CERN is a consortium of companies doing funding
  • Only real solution is disseminating knowledge
  • DIY biohackers trying to see infrared with vitamin A
  • Digging up dinosaurs
  • No money to prepare dinosaur bones
  • Incentives for science
  • Brewery example of employee owned corporation
  • New models for funding businesses
  • Ownership and Governence Axes
  • Making scientists stakeholders in
  • Danger of masking philanthropy as investment and vice versa
  • Would VCs ever fund something that's not purely for profit
  • New Company structures