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How Fast Grants helped spur innovation in a pandemic

  1. Health Care

How Fast Grants helped spur innovation in a pandemic

For faster innovation during COVID-19, Stripe CEO Patrick Collison set out to strip away red tape and change the way grants are awarded.

A man looking in a microscope

Right now, it typically takes about a year for scientists to receive a research grant, no matter how brilliant the idea. And when time really isn't on our side — when the research could save lives in a pandemic — the distance between a scientist's idea and the innovations that could follow might mean the difference between life and death. But when people join forces, breakthrough innovation in unexpected ways can happen.


To pave the way for faster innovation during the coronavirus pandemic, the economist Tyler Cowen, the executive director of the Mercatus Center, and Patrick Collison, the tech entrepreneur and CEO of Stripe, wanted to strip away red tape and change the way grants are awarded. Their solution: Fast Grants, a platform that allows scientists to apply for and receive funding between $10,000 and $500,000 in 14 days or less. "[The pandemic] was a case where urgency really mattered," Cowen says. "With thousands of people dying every day, every day matters. And the ideas and technologies that could help have been lacking in speedy funding."

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