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FootPrint Coalition's Science Engine has its first 14 projects

When FootPrint Coalition (that's us), launched the Science Engine last year, we wanted to find projects all over the world that we could support with fast grants to kickstart early stage research.

Well, now we've got 14 projects in locations ranging from North Birmingham, Alabama to Thailand and Tahiti.

These projects have been vetted and approved by our Science Leads who are examining proposals for early research on things like: ways to apply indigenous knowledge to rebuilding the natural world; how to deploy the latest technologies so communities and neighborhoods can gauge the local impacts of pollution; understanding the implications of next generation biotechnology and its applications toward planetary restoration; deepening our knowledge of cellular agriculture and its specific applications; and using artificial intelligence to uncover potentially promising, and under-recognized areas of interest for climate change mitigation and adaptation.

"The Science Engine is our partnership with Experiment Foundation in which we seed environmental tech science projects and the community that we’ve built can crowdfund the remainder," says Rachel Kropa, FootPrint Coalition's Managing Director, Nonprofit and Science. "These are usually between $3500 and $10,000 … [And] these fourteen projects represent one fifth of our total monies for the challenge."

That means anyone who wants to can finance this exciting early stage research into the next generation of climate mitigation and adaptation solutions.

Some of the research projects, like a Carnegie Mellon University proposal, will examine the future of food through applications of 3D printing. The CMU project is actually looking at how cellular meat can be printed to form the perfect steak.

In Michigan, researchers have already received full funding for a project sampling the genetics of freshwater fish to better understand how these species could adapt to life on a warming planet.

Other researchers are heading to Thailand to survey key participants in the local farming industries to determine whether emerging economies could be profitable hubs for the cultured meat industry.

Birmingham's project will see community scientists use the OurVoice Discovery Tool mobile app to empower residents and advance health equity in North Birmingham through citizen science. This is a pilot project to inform future research and community outreach addressing the environmental injustices which differentially impact low wealth communities of color.

And all the way across the world, in Tahiti, the Te Vaa Mataeinaa watershed survey will sample waterways that are critical to providing drinking water for people, nurturing forests and wildlife, and irrigating crops and livestock on the volcanic island of Moorea.

"Funding risky research first requires bets on risky new models," our co-founder, Robert Downey Jr., wrote in a December editorial for FastCompany. "We are in the business of supporting entrepreneurial scientists and we are in agreement that the major impediments are the obvious limitations of decision-making by committee... The FootPrint Coalition Science Engine builds off suggestions made in the Funding Risky Research paper. It operationalizes the 'loose-play funding for early-stage risky explorations' but doesn’t bind it to universities."

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