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Work we’re doing for science

We build networks of brilliant researchers at different career stages. We lead Virtual Institutes of Science to solve hard problems across locations and fields using modern tools.

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Overview

This can be a golden age for scientific discovery. Technologies such as optimization techniques and machine learning make possible levels of ambition, scale, and efficiency that were unimaginable 20 years ago. However, while a variety of scientific pursuits continue to thrive and deliver results for society, we are failing to achieve our full potential. Today’s breakthroughs do not match either the sea changes of the Victorian and Industrial Revolution eras that modernized Western economies, or the “golden age of innovation” that defined the post-World War II period and pioneered world-changing technologies such as electronics, nuclear power, modern computing, and the birth of the Internet. 

 

Instead, innovation today is too often defined by new use cases for existing technologies or refining previous advancements, rather than the creation of entirely new fields of discovery. Call it the “silver age” – rather than the “golden age” that we ought to be experiencing.

 

At Schmidt Futures, we believe in helping the next generation of scientific leaders excel. We believe that interdisciplinarity is the key to unlocking the next generation of scientific breakthroughs. We believe in backing high-risk, high-reward research that others won’t invest in. Through our Virtual Institutes of Science, which are substantial, distributed, managed, intentionally high-risk operation that pursue timely opportunities to increase our knowledge of the natural world and to apply it to human needs, we are working to transform the way science is conducted by working across fields and organizations, and through the infusion of new technological advances such as advanced computing.

The work we’re doing to affect the scientific community includes:

Schmidt Science Fellows

The Schmidt Science Fellows program brings together the world’s best emerging scientists and places them in a postdoctoral fellowship in a field different from their existing expertise.

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More Advanced Computing into STEM R&D

We advance STEM R&D through the thoughtful use of modern tools such as optimization techniques and machine learning that make possible new levels of ambition, scale, and efficiency. Most of our work in this area takes place through the Schmidt Futures Virtual institutes of Science, which focus scientists from across disciplines and locations towards solving hard problems together in a time bound manner.    

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Positive Social Uses of Technology

We promote thoughtful uses of technology, such as by advancing universal broadband and the bioeconomy, to improve people’s lives.

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Synthetic Biology

The BioFutures Program aims to accelerate the translation of bioeconomy research into public and economic benefits by focusing on repurposing sustainable waste biomass, overcoming engineering constraints, and mobilizing talent for bioeconomy-related federal agencies. These first steps aim to begin implementing elements of the Strategy released in April 2022 that was informed by the Task Force on Synthetic Biology and the Bioeconomy.

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Schmidt Science Polymaths

The Schmidt Science Polymath program bets on recently-tenured professors with remarkable track records, promising futures, and a desire to explore interdisciplinary research. The program aims to encourage the best “polymath” scientists to expand their research portfolios by investigating a big, experimental idea after achieving tenure.

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Virtual Institute for Scientific Software (VISS)

VISS is a distributed software engineering center at several research universities that are working to accelerate the pace of scientific discovery. VISS’s centers develop robust software, support platforms and systems, encourage best practices in open science, and provide access to techniques such as high-end computing, massive databases, and machine learning. The centers will address difficult scientific software problems and increase the number of highly shared platforms.

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Statement on Science Funding

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For Society

We imagine a future in which everyone can benefit from the progress of the digital age. We bet on innovators, sometimes from a young age and for life, and build teams promoting thoughtful uses of technology and shared prosperity.