Focused Research Organizations (FROs) Gain Momentum to Help Accelerate Scientific Progress
NEW YORK, MARCH, 15, 2023 – Today, Schmidt Futures, a philanthropic initiative of Eric and Wendy Schmidt, and Citadel founder and CEO Ken Griffin announced a $50 million commitment to Convergent Research and its platform of Focused Research Organizations (FROs), a new research model designed to eliminate bottlenecks to scientific progress through novel scientific funding. This support will launch two new FROs focused on transforming drug discovery and our ability to diagnose, treat, and cure complex diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
As the traditional model of scientific funding has prioritized conventional and often slow research structures, disruptive discoveries have declined. Cancer remains uncured, the cause of Alzheimer’s remains a mystery, and the next telescope-like tools have yet to be invented in many research fields. FROs offer a solution to accelerate major breakthroughs and solve pressing challenges in areas such as human health and climate change.
Launched in 2021 by the Convergent Research platform (a member of the Schmidt Futures Network), the FRO model reimagines the traditional scientific funding structure. By leveraging the ability of philanthropies to invest in experimental projects that would otherwise go underfunded, FROs enable scientific teams to build tools, collect data, and develop infrastructure with a greater level of focus and scale than in a traditional academic or industry environment. These abilities will allow scientists to investigate our most pressing problems with more speed and depth than ever before.
The FRO model has already sparked hundreds of ideas for scientific breakthroughs and is continuing to gain momentum. Since launching last year, it has attracted top scientific talent, more than 300 proposals for new projects, and garnered increased philanthropic support, demonstrating the promise and viability of the model. This joint $50 million commitment builds upon this progress and will further support how the FRO model can lead to major scientific breakthroughs where traditional scientific organizations face challenges. Further, on March 6, the UK government announced a commitment of up to £50 million to support innovative institutional models like FROs, working with Schmidt Futures to garner additional support and co-investment in science.
“FROs can advance bold projects and scientific breakthroughs for public benefit which otherwise would fall in the critical gap between for-profit startups and government-sponsored research,” said Eric Schmidt, co-founder of Schmidt Futures, with his wife Wendy. “If we solve scientific bottlenecks through FROs, we could unlock major advances in human health, climate change, biosecurity, and more.”
“Using new research models to advance breakthrough discoveries will drive progress and innovation across the scientific spectrum,” said Citadel founder and CEO Ken Griffin. “Focused Research Organizations represent an important strategic pathway to address some of the most pressing and complex challenges in health and medicine. I look forward to the benefits they will deliver for current and future generations.”
As a result of this new support, two additional FROs will launch: the Parallel2 Technology Institute (PTI) and EvE Bio. PTI will measure proteins with single-cell resolution at 100X lower cost, aiming to understand protein dysfunctions—the cause of many diseases such as Alzheimer’s—at a previously impossible pace, potentially accelerating a cure. EvE Bio aims to produce the largest publicly available dataset of interactions between small-molecule compounds (drugs) and human proteins (drug targets). This dataset holds tremendous potential with applications ranging from drug repurposing to the development of new kinds of drug molecules that will reduce side effects and boost efficacy.
About Schmidt Futures
Founded by Eric and Wendy Schmidt, Schmidt Futures is a philanthropic initiative that brings talented people together in networks to prove out their ideas and solve hard problems in science and society. To learn more about our method and the diverse types of capital and tools that we deploy, visit https://www.schmidtfutures.com