As of today, we at Mercatus, led by me, are formally initiating a new project called Emergent Ventures.
Most importantly, here is the application page, and here is its opening summary:
We want to jumpstart high-reward ideas—moonshots in many cases—that advance prosperity, opportunity, liberty, and well-being. We welcome the unusual and the unorthodox.
Our goal is positive social change, but we do not mind if you make a profit from your project. (Indeed, a quick path to revenue self-sufficiency is a feature not a bug!)
Projects will either be fellowships or grants: fellowships involve time in residence at the Mercatus Center in Northern Virginia; grants are one-time or slightly staggered payments to support a project.
We encourage you to think big, but we also will consider very small grants or short fellowships if they might change the trajectory of your life. We encourage applications from all ages and all parts of the world.
Imagine you are the next Satoshi, trying to invent “the next Bitcoin.” Or say you are a budding public intellectual, seeking the reach and influence of Jordan Peterson, by building your social media presence. Or an 18-year-old social science prodigy, hoping to fly to Boston to meet a potential mentor. What about moving to Sacramento to write a quality blog covering California state government? I very much hope you will apply for a grant at Emergent Ventures. Most of all, I hope you are applying with ideas that we haven’t thought of yet.
We will be running Emergent Ventures with a minimum of overhead costs and a maximum of attention on upside potential from your projects. This means:
1. The money is given away, not spent on staff or creating a new self-perpetuating bureaucracy. That also keeps our incentives away from self-perpetuation and risk-aversion.
2. There is no committee to screen applications, or to keep the “crazy” ideas from getting to my desk. I will personally review each and every application, albeit with additional refereeing assistance from Mercatus, the Mercatus network, and my own personal network.
3. If you receive money, the “report back” requirements are minimal, typically a 1-2 page report a year or so later, and possibly future reports too. If you can’t show value or progress in a short report, you probably haven’t produced it.
4. The proposal you submit is limited to 1500 words, though with an option of supplementary documents. If you can’t get to the point and explain your plans succinctly, we will not fund you.
5. If you receive a grant, we at Mercatus — and also I personally — will do our very best to help you in your endeavors.
Think of the goal of Emergent Ventures as supporting new ideas and projects that are too difficult, too hard to measure, too unusual, too foreign, too small, or…too something to make their way through the usual foundation and philanthropic process.
If you wish, you also can think of Emergent Ventures as a bet on my own personal judgment. For some time to come, I will be devoting significant time to Emergent Ventures every single day (with a few exceptions, mostly travel-related). Most applications will be processed promptly.
If you are interested, as a donor, in supporting Emergent Ventures, please write to my email. It is a tax-deductible contribution. Within a short period of time we expect to have a total of $4 million lined up, from a very brilliant set of donors, but we hope to do more.
Those of you who are applying should use the main site (not my email), so I hope you will apply here.
If you tweet, write on Facebook, blog, write as a journalist, work as a professor or teacher — I am asking you to please do your best in helping us to publicize this endeavor.
Addendum: For the curious, here is one bit from the application: “…what is one mainstream or “consensus” view that you absolutely agree with? (This is our version of a “trick” question, reversing the now-fashionable contrarianism.)”