Hi Austin! Thanks for the questions. I appreciate you looking out for the best use of Manifund's resources!
1. As Gavriel mentioned, there are a few logistical reasons why Convergent can't directly fund this work right now:
Time - They need the data as soon as possible to meet the research venture catalyst application deadline of Oct 23 for the MGS project. So applying for grants like Manifund promising quick turnaround is more feasible than navigating internal funding. (Note, the only other grant we were counting on being helpful was the 14-day Lightspeed grant)
Logistics - Convergent is not incorporated in the UK, so employing me directly would involve substantial overhead versus me applying for grants tailored to individual researchers.
Also, I should strongly emphasize that as an independent researcher, I have the freedom to make the results of this project public, rather than the work being siloed solely for CRs incubation efforts at risk of being lost when the purpose is served. We discussed making this a formal deliverable and adjusting the timeline/funding to account for this with Gavriel, but the grant write-up does not reflect that.
I'm satisfied these reasons make an independent grant the right mechanism for funding this work. CR needs the insights in a timely manner, and this gives me a solid reason to work on this in a sprint mode, avoiding undue bureaucratic delays. And outside of CR’s needs, this work should have been happening anyways, I serendipitously happen to be in the right place with the capacity to work on this to make it happen.
2. I understand CR can't legally commit FRO funds for this purpose. As a non-profit, CR has restrictions on how it can allocate funds. Their budgets are tightly earmarked for specific research/road mapping goals, making it difficult to flexibly commit money to adjacent projects, even if valuable. If Convergent were a for-profit company, it would be easier for them to invest in supportive initiatives like this that might not fit neatly into a pre-defined budget for exploring and pursuing incubation. The FRO budget they unlock will also be very specifically allocated to the research goals thereafter. From my understanding, those funds are allocated to whatever new entity/org the FRO will be, not to CR as such. Specifically for this project, the ‘seed-corn budget’ received at the end of a successful round 1 has strict requirements to be committed to developing the full technical plan for stage 2. I recognize why Convergent can't directly back this themselves at this time. I'm optimistic that my independent work here can provide data to accelerate their roadmaps in a timely way.
Please let me know if this addresses your concerns. I'm happy to discuss further.