Fast Grants is proving that it’s possible to significantly speed up the pace of funding for scientific research and development, with the COVID-19 crisis as a powerful first proof of concept. Targeting projects that demand greater speed and flexibility than traditional funding methods can offer, Fast Grants accelerates timelines for scientific discoveries by as much as six to nine months, expediting research critically needed to save lives.
Photo caption above: Katherine Seley-Radtke of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, received funding from Fast Grants “in days” to test the antiviral compounds developed in her lab for effectiveness against COVID-19. / Fast Grants
This summer, Fast Grants funded a diversity of approaches in the major categories of COVID-19 science research. Over 5,500 applications were reviewed in a 48-hour turnaround window and 192 grants were awarded. All grant recipients received funding in two weeks or less, and more than 40 percent of funding was distributed to female grant applicants.
A highlight of the funded COVID-19 breakthroughs is SalivaDirect, a saliva-based test that received emergency FDA approval and was used by the National Basketball Association to keep players and staff safe during the 2020 basketball season. Other research includes:
the identification of antibodies critical to vaccine development; developing monoclonal antibody treatments; and genetic research to pinpoint the most effective treatments for populations with certain characteristics.
Having contributed to multiple breakthrough developments, Fast Grants has demonstrated that faster science funding can be delivered in ways that accelerate research and significantly diversify the recipient pool. They are now fielding inquiries from the US and UK governments, and many private foundations, as to how this funding model can be replicated in other scientific fields.
Fast Grants In Numbers
The amount of funding distributed to female grant applicants. Women and minority groups are largely underrepresented in science
funding, and Fast Grants actively reached out to these groups to
increase their awareness of the opportunity.
The number of grants awarded out of 5,500 applications reviewed. Fast Grants employed a venture capital strategy, funding a diversity of
approaches from the major categories of COVID-19 science research.
The typical turnaround time for review. The application was designed to be filled out in 30 minutes, and in the first round for all research proposal reviews, applicants received a response within two days.
2 Weeks or less
The typical amount of time for grant recipients to receive funding. Commitments were dispersed as quickly as universities could process them — often in as little as a week.
“We stood up a multi-million dollar science funding project in eight days, bringing our experience in talent identification, investment, and project management to a completely new industry. While the virus remains resilient, we’ve been equally so in modeling effective science funding. Numerous governments and foundations have already approached us about operationalizing our model, ensuring Fast Grants’ legacy will be carried on in science funding for years to come.”