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Funding 'Radical' Science

Researchers working on "radical" ideas have a new place to get funding, reports ScienceInsider's Jocelyn Kaiser. Billionaire tech entrepreneur Peter Thiel has launched a new program called Breakout Labs, offering grants to independent researchers working on ideas that are a little out there, Kaiser says. Thiel, a co-founder of PayPal, already has a foundation that supports research on aging and artificial intelligence. "Now Thiel wants to fund 'revolutionary' science by do-it-yourself scientists and those with start-up companies that aren't far enough along to attract venture capital," Kaiser reports. The application process on Breakout Labs' Web site requires that the researchers be independent of any university or institution. In addition, the grantees must agree to publish their results in open-access journals, and must also agree to support future projects, either by giving a small portion of future royalties from intellectual property back to Breakout Labs, or by assigning the foundation IP rights, Kaiser says. "The foundation hopes to make 10 to 20 awards in the first year, ranging from around $50,000 to $350,000," she adds.