It occurs to me that the large organizations that have the most to benefit from early adoption of fusion power are those humanitarian organizations that are committed to development in third world countries. Have any efforts been made to pitch proposals to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (and other similar groups)? Not only does the issue of decentralized power grids fit in with their mission statement, but pitching to an organization run by far-thinking technologists may be easier. The fund also has the deepest pockets, and would likely be able to provide significant support once convinced of the feasibility of the Focus Fusion approach.
Unlike governments, humanitarian organizations are likely to have the same goals as those stated by Focus Fusion itself, and will present fewer philosophical objections to the research. Instead, only the science will have to speak for itself, which is the ideal situation.
I looked into it a while back but didn’t pursue anything as we don’t seem like a good fit with their criteria:
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation awards the majority of its grants to U.S. 501 (c) (3) organizations and other tax-exempt organizations identified by foundation staff. We award most grants through four primary program areas: Global Health, Education, Global Libraries, and Pacific Northwest.
The first is we’re still waiting for our 501(c)(3) status to be processed – we submitted the paperwork back in mid October, 2005 (Derek, what’s the timeline here). The second is that we’re not global health, education, libraries or pacific northwest. They may make an exception for us. But on their website, they say:
If your project falls outside our program areas, click on the link below for a list of other resources and organizations that may be able to help. Read more »
So I never contacted them, but I suppose it’s worth a shot. Just not sure what to say. They say for more info, send an email to: email@example.com or call: (206) 709-3140 I’m somewhat shy about contacting granting organizations, so, do we have any volunteers who want to call and get info? See if there is a possibility that they would be open to considering primary energy research grants for fusion. Maybe just like lobbying the X-prize, we could convince them this is a key sector to provide grants in.
Hi There! Just moved this post here from “Economics”. This is more about grant-seeking which falls under fundraising. The economic forums are about global economic issues and how fusion will affect markets, and how to best leverage economics to make the transition to a fusion economy.
Yes, focus fusion must lobby organizations to recognize that it requires special consideration for funding because of it’s unique economic and ecumenical benefits. You may be correct that you fall outside of the normal purview for grants from humanitarian organizations, but at a certain point my feeling is that the intervention of a high-profile sponsor will be necessary to protect the fruits of successful research.
What happens if proof-of-concept is a smashing success? Only humanitarian organizations can provide the moral force to spearhead the introduction of this new energy source in precisely the areas where it can do the most good with the least institutional resistance: in third-world countries where there is a vacuum of reliable power generation.
This is a pie-in-the-sky formulation, of course, but my point is that it is important to capture the imaginations of those who want to change the world for the better, especially those with a few bucks. Soros is another example of the kind of investor you might consider. He is dedicated to humanitarianism, progressive social change, and forward-looking technology.
I agree with you that it is important not to go off without adequate preparation, and grant-seeking as everybody knows is 95% failure anyway.
I would not have a volunteer contact anybody unless they are 100% committed to your program and have a solid fundraising and/or scientific background. You should put your best foot forward always. That having been said, your existing body of theory and scientific research program should be sufficient if packaged properly and professionally presented both in written proposals and face-to-face presentations. If you do not have somebody in charge of such things I would make it a priority. While your grass-roots funding schemes are admirable I believe they will be insufficient in either the near or middle term while your cultural footprint is small. Later, if the intitutional support is secured from any sector, and assuming net energy production becomes a reality, individual contributions may become more important, but they are unlikely to provide significant income precisely when they are most needed.
The best solution is a non-corporate, non-governmental patron from outside the scientific establishment, whose aim is to support the project because of it’s possible impact on humanity, rather than possible economic exploitation or even the laudible goal of the advancement of pure science (as we have seen this is not always the only goal in the established science community).
The greatest asset of Focus Fusion is that it is not a crackpot idea and is supported by genuine scintific research. Therefore direct appeal to those with means is advisable, as even negative responses help to create awareness. A negative answer today could be a positive down the road, as any success in research will cause an instant re-evaluation of your efforts by those previously contacted.
Great post! Thanks!
I would not have a volunteer contact anybody unless they are 100% committed to your program and have a solid fundraising and/or scientific background.
The Focus Fusion Society is still evolving as an organization. My understanding is that Lerner et al do most of their fundraising via LPP – https://focusfusion.org/index.php/site/article/lpp/ – and that a dedicated fundraising strategy and materials for the Focus Fusion Society as an entity have yet to be developed/deployed. Partly this is waiting on the processing of our 501(c)(3) status. And partly, we need a person with the afore-mentioned solid fundraising experience for this kind of organization. Could this be you? Send Eric an email – “Lerner” in the member list.
Although I have some passing experience and interest in this area, I would have to say I lack any real qualifications or expertise that would be useful even after the organization secures 501(c)(3) status. I would suggest that Lerner himself look for somebody bright and energetic who’s still in college from either of the EE’s (electrical or environmental) or pure or applied physics backgrounds, and with whom he personally has complete confidence. The fundraising and grant-writing can be learned much easier than the expertise necessary to properly sell the research (sorry, although I am an informed layman I have neither). Alternatively he could search out somebody planning to go into the Peace Corps or other humanitarian work and apprentice them in the science himself. The benefit of such an arrangement is that the individual is more likely to be able to provide contacts in that area that the scientific folks in the organization might have difficulty cultivating.
I am not too familiar with Lerner’s persona. Does he like to schmooze and politic? As the most recognizable name in the organization the onus will continually fall upon him to attract attention to the project and to LPP, and it is essential that this happen in the general press and the wider world (as opposed to the scientific journals which will happen according to the success of the experiments). Above all he and the others in the organization must attempt to actually meet and speak face-to-face with individuals who might be in position to help advance your goals, and not be shy about it. The amounts you require at this stage of research are relatively small, so you will be surprised at how effective knowing the right person can be in securing funding.