The Visionary Research Fund at Cornell

Cornell is dedicated to fostering discovery-driven research across all areas of science—it is deeply ingrained in the university’s mission. By expanding the frontiers of knowledge, profound discoveries of basic scientific research have the power to pave the way for advances in a wide variety of fields, fuel technological innovations and economic vitality, and improve the wellbeing of individuals and societies around the world.

To achieve and maintain the highest levels of excellence in research, the university’s commitment to seeking philanthropic support has become ever more important, especially with declining federal and state funding. Government sponsors are increasingly focused on “safe and saleable” research that has immediate, foreseeable consequences.

The recently formed Science Philanthropy Alliance has inspired Cornell to establish the Visionary Research Fund to provide increased opportunity and resources for basic research. The fund will help ensure that our scientists can continue to make contributions that shape the future. Designed to stimulate innovative high-risk, high-impact research, the fund will support projects with compelling vision and strategies for transformative discovery in the physical and life sciences, engineering, mathematics, and computer sciences.

The focus of the fund is on discovery projects that are novel, early stage, or unlikely to receive funding from traditional sources. Faculty members at all career stages will be eligible to receive funding, with emphasis given to early- and mid-career researchers working independently or in interdisciplinary partnerships with senior investigators.

The Visionary Research Fund offers opportunities for donors to make a major difference within a broad range of engagement.

Projects can range from those requiring two-year “seed” funding, at the level of $100,000 and above; to larger multi-investigator “break-through” projects that seek to develop an advanced experimental tool or a new research capability that can transform a field, at the level of $500,000 and above; to multidisciplinary “institute-scale” programs where support can have tremendous, far-reaching impact due to the collective vision and talents of the research team, at the level of $5M and above.

The university will work with potential donors to help align their philanthropic objectives with Cornell’s priorities in basic science research. Private investment will allow our most talented researchers to pursue exciting opportunities for discovery and help ensure that advances in scientific knowledge continue to flourish on the Cornell campus.

For more information about Visionary Research Fund giving opportunities, please contact Senior Vice Provost for Research Robert Buhrman.