NSF Creates Fast Track for Out-of-the-Box Proposals

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Science  18 Nov 2011:
Vol. 334, Issue 6058, pp. 883
DOI: 10.1126/science.334.6058.883

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For years, the scientific community and Congress have pressured the National Science Foundation (NSF) to lay more bets on research that is risky but that could rock our world if it succeeds. NSF officials have always insisted that everything the basic-research foundation supports is "potentially transformative" and that there's no need for a special program. Until now. Last week, NSF Director Subra Suresh unveiled an initiative that aims to roll the dice on a relative handful of researchers with unorthodox ideas about how to tackle complex problems. At $24 million, the Creative Research Awards for Transformative Interdisciplinary Ventures will take up only a tiny portion of NSF's $5.5 billion research portfolio. But NSF hopes it will send a big signal to the U.S. research community.