The Discovery Fund

January 01, 2002
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The slogan is, "discovering new ideas … making life better." The idea? To raise money for research that's ahead of its time. Projects that are a little weird, a little way-out; visionary research that, if it pans out, could result in a better quality of life for the people of Pennsylvania and the nation.

It's risk-taking research. Work that falls outside of traditional disciplines, that attempts new methods, or uncovers surprising applications. It's research with a societal payoff, either by design (a professor sets out to investigate a social trend), or luck (curiosity about a basic process leads to a new way to solve a practical problem). And it's work of which the standard funding sources might be shy.

"We need seed money and gap money," explains Bob Booz, director of development in the office of the Vice President for Research and Dean of the Graduate School. The first to let faculty with promising ideas acquire the preliminary data they need to compete for outside funding; the second to help ideas with commercial potential jump the gap from concept to product.

"Universities are the major sources of the new knowledge that underlies novel commercial concepts, future products, and improved processes," notes Eva J. Pell, vice president for research. "We must find ways to provide faculty with resources to experiment with risky and novel ideas."

The research in this special report was not supported by the Discovery Fund: “The fund doesn't exist,” says Booz. "But if it did, these stories would have qualified. We want to raise money so we can do more."

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The Discovery Fund is being established by contributions from Penn State alumni and friends who are interested in helping us fund ideas that could result in a better quality of life for the people of Pennsylvania and the nation. For more information about philanthropic opportunities in the Office of the Vice President for Research, contact Robert J. Booz, Director of Development; 814-863-9580; For more information about Penn State Research, see Illustrations on this and the preceding pages are from a 1635 emblem book in Penn State's Rare Books Collection. The English Emblem Book Project of the University Libraries' Electronic Text Center is making this older form of text available on the World Wide Web. According to the introduction on, "An emblem book represents a particular kind of reading. Unlike today, the eye is not intended to move rapidly from page to page. The emblem is meant to arrest the sense, to lead into the text, to the richness of its associations."

Last Updated January 01, 2002