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Top Idea -> Proof Of Concept Grant

Partner with national foundations to immediately consider each Top Idea finalist for a $50,000 proof of concept grant.

Photo of Jim Rosenberg
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Build partnerships with a set of national foundations that agree to immediately consider each "top idea" finalist for a $50,000 proof of concept grant. The foundations would use OpenIDEO as a trusted source for high-quality, pre-qualified innovation investment opportunities. Finalists wouldn't necessarily be guaranteed funding, but they would be guaranteed this opportunity and visibility. Program officers could evaluate each top ideas finalist and decide whether to make the investment. Or, if a foundation preferred, they could allow OpenIDEO to make the evaluations and decisions. OpenIDEO,, or another partner could then serve as the fiscal sponsor for the grants, making it easy for the top idea teams to receive the funding. 

The participating foundations could help define clear criteria for what makes a top idea a good fit for a proof of concept grant. Teams might be asked, during Refinement or perhaps after the Top Ideas are announced, to take some additional steps to qualify for the proof of concept grants. For example, they might need to define how they will use the money, create a clear three month or six month work plan, and defined the deliverable they will complete with the grant funds.

Program officers could manage the grants without a heavy administrative burden. A $50,000 proof of concept grant is small enough that it could generally be made without going through a full docket process (especially if the participation in the OpenIDEO program has already been vetted and approved). A total fund of $1.5M to $2M, , across all the participating foundations, should be sufficient to support OpenIDEO challenges (roughly five or six per year, each generating five or six top ideas). The actual funding required could be less since some ideas might not be funded.

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Jim Rosenberg


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Photo of Shane Zhao

Nice one Jim. This model is very similar to our Amplify program in collaboration with Top ideas from Amplify challenges are provided with prototyping grants and design support from's Amplify design team after the challenges are over. The review process for grants during Refinement is very similar to what you've described. We'd love to bring on more "proof of concept grant" challenges in the near future:)

Photo of Jim Rosenberg

I forgot that the Amplify program worked that way. It sounds like the challenge sponsored by challenge has a grant opportunity tied to it as well. It would be great to have this type of implementation runway for more challenges.