Economist Tyler Cowen launches a fellowship and grant program for moon shot ideas

Fundings and Exits

Tyler Cowen, who I interviewed here, is a fascinating economist. Part pragmatist and part dreamer, he has been researching and writing about the future for a long time in books and his blog, Marginal Revolution. Now he and his university, George Mason, are putting some money where his mouth is.

Cowen and the team at GMU are working on Emergent Ventures, a fellowship and grant program for moon shots. The goal is to give people with big ideas a little capital to help them build out their dreams.

“It has long been my view that risk-takers are not sufficiently rewarded in the world of ideas and that academic incentives are too conservative,” he said. “The intellectual scene should learn something from Silicon Valley and venture capital.”

Cowen is raising $4 million for the first fund. He announced the fund in a podcast on the Mercatus website.

“People such as Satoshi and Jordan Peterson have had huge impacts (regardless of one’s degree of enthusiasm for their ideas), and yet in terms of philanthropic funding the world just isn’t geared to seed their ambitions,” said Cowen.

The project is part of the GMU Mercatus Center, a “source for market-oriented ideas—bridging the gap between academic ideas and real-world problems.” The fund has just opened applications and the amounts granted depend on the project and creator.

Cowen, for his part, is optimistic about the prospects of the future-focused fund.

“I expect to produce a better and freer world, some degree of human self-realization, a better climate for public intellectuals and other creators of ideas, more innovation, and to bring the intellectual side of America more in touch with the entrepreneurial side,” said Cowen.

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