The goal of discovery research is to understand fundamental mechanisms of science, often without firm direction of what specific technologies and products subsequently may ensue. The University of Arizona is known around the world for collaborating boundlessly across disciplines in outstanding discovery research and scholarship that has enabled better understanding everything from the origins of the universe to molecular mechanisms of nutrition from food. With our land-grant tradition, the UA has a long history and distinguished record of translating discovery research into creative solutions that benefit our public by addressing the grand challenges that face the world now and in centuries to come.
Although the pathway from discovery-oriented research to innovative products and technologies often takes unexpected twists and turns, innovation and public impact depend directly on a robust platform of discovery research. The tight federal fiscal climate and heightened uncertainty about the future are increasing pressure on federal agencies to adopt a more conservative posture and to demonstrate short term results. Consequently, federal agencies are investing in already proven concepts, and there is no avenue for the evaluation of new “blue sky” ideas—those that offer great promise and yet carry more risk for failure. Without funding support for these novel ideas, possible innovations are cut off and unexplored; who knows which of these could have led to a cure for cancer or a method to sustainably power our future? These conditions threaten the competitiveness and leadership position of the U.S. economy and, if they persist, are likely to harm our quality of life in the future.
In response, the University of Arizona is joining our other premier research university colleagues to engage philanthropists in the support for these critical discovery research activities. At the University of Arizona, we will expand our existing competitive internal seed fund programs to include additional awards or tracks of sufficient amounts of support at the key junctures for early-stage, out of the box, often transdisciplinary, multiple investigator projects that are not likely to successfully find funding from other sources in today’s federal climate. These types of “angel” philanthropic awards will enable the timely pursuit of pioneering ideas, fostering an ecosystem of innovation limited only by the imagination of the researchers, and thus unconstrained from short term political and agency budget concerns.
To learn more about the program, view the University of Arizona Full Description.