Stanford Social Innovation Review : Informing and inspiring leaders of social change

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Impact Investing

A New Vision for Funding Science

The gap between the lab and the field—between the work of scientific discovery and the achievement of social impact—has grown wider in recent years. So, not coincidentally, has the gap between philanthropic funding for university-based research and venture funding for the commercialization of products and services. But the emerging practice of philanthropic investment holds the potential to close this dual gap.

 

The power of science to change the world should be self-evident. Consider the immeasurable impact that science and engineering innovation had on social conditions during the 20th century. The first half of the century produced the assembly line, the airplane, penicillin, and a vaccine for tuberculosis; the second half brought the eradication of polio and smallpox. Scientists harnessed the power of the sun with photo voltaic cells, invented the birth control pill, and sequenced the human...


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