The Flux Capacitor - Time, Funds, and Peers for Revolutionary Science
We are launching the Flux Capacitor - where we'll fund researchers to pursue startups and breakthrough research outside of academic institutions.
Good science might be conducted in a university lab. But great science often arrives from somewhere else.
Newton discovering calculus and gravity at his childhood home, Darwin formulating his theory of evolution on the H.M.S. Beagle, Einstein working as a patent clerk while investigating relativity, Shockley’s invention of the modern transistor in a Chicago hotel room: many of the best scientists have achieved breakthroughs when on break from their day-to-day commitments or away from a university.
We believe that for brilliance to emerge, researchers need time and space to pursue the unconventional without getting bogged down by bureaucracy and the “publish or perish” treadmill. Whether this is an ambitious take on your current research, or an unorthodox area of research that is understudied, we want you to pursue it.
To be sure, universities facilitate important discoveries. But sadly our grant-making institutions and labs do not trust younger, bolder scientists to do great work. Many researchers must sacrifice their 20s and 30s adding decimal points to conventional views held by dogmatic advisors or political hiring committees.
There is also the brute fact of the game of academic musical chairs: too many incredible young researchers competing against each other for too few tenure-track positions. We make fewer discoveries, and build fewer engineering marvels because too many great minds play it safe or compete in a losing game. Incrementalism has prevailed for too long.
This is why today we are launching our new program for researchers who want to experiment with their ideas outside of academic institutions. We’re calling it the Flux Capacitor (“the Flux” for short). Unlike Doc from the movie Back to the Future, we can’t build a time machine to change the past. But we can use funds to give scientists their time back to pursue the unconventional and turn science fiction to fact.
Who would benefit from participating in Flux:
You want to hit “pause” on the academic rat race and spend 3 months on first-principles exploration of either applied, practical problems that can be commercialized within a VC-funded startup in the near-medium term (5 years) or moonshot fundamental science.
To help you do this, we’ll give you up to $100k in funding.
There are three conditions for participating in Flux:
You fit the renegade scientist profile (we want you to solve zero-to-one problems, not focus on incremental progress!)
You have to completely break away from your academic duties, and commit to working on your ideas full-time for a summer.
You have the ability to set up a Delaware C-Corp to accept the funds. As an investment fund this is the simplest mechanism for us, if you don’t go on to launch a startup, the C-Corp can be shut down after the program is over.
What you receive as part of the Flux:
Funding for far out-there ideas
A cohort of peers
An opening weekend retreat at the beginning of the summer; a dinner to close off the summer; mentorship along the way.
If your startup idea gains momentum, then we’re prepared to support you further. If you decide to return to the university, no problem and good luck!
Apply for the Flux here - applications will close February 23.
Special thanks to Michael Dubrovsky for working with us on this, and helping to get this off the ground.