Upgrading Scientific Dialogue
Opportunity for Progress
Astera is committed to funding and supporting ambitious efforts that accelerate scientific progress. A cornerstone of scientific progress is how scientific results are shared and discussed across research communities, i.e. publishing. It shapes our collective thinking, the pace of iteration, and even dictates who is able to participate.
Over the last several decades, the internet has transformed information exchange. We now face staggering and continuous growth in data and cumulative knowledge. The pace of advance continues to increase. We urgently need to experiment with new tools that would make it easier to share and discuss scientific results.
Astera is launching a series of ambitious funding programs over the next few years to catalyze new publishing tools to make scientific exchange faster and easier. We prioritize strategies that leverage cutting-edge technologies and address challenges in scaling. New, creative solutions for exchanging scientific information at scale could not only address existing bottlenecks in scientific publishing but also transform what is possible for scientific progress.
Opportunity for Individuals
To explore new solutions, we need the most talented builders and entrepreneurs to lead. Astera’s new Science Entrepreneur-in-Residence (EIR) program will support innovators who urgently want to unlock new tools for scientific publishing.
Selected Science EIRs will carry out the first phase of their work in residence at Astera. We will consider a proposed budget of up to $500,000 to cover compensation and resources for the EIR, including other potential teammates. Science EIRs with high-potential ideas and demonstrable excellence in execution during the first year will be eligible to pitch a spin-out organization or company. For promising directions, Astera will provide additional resources of up to approximately $2M as an investment or donation, depending on the nature of the project.
In addition to financial support, Astera’s Science EIR program will also provide guidance for builders as they envision and test actionable, out-of-the-box ideas. We will pair Science EIRs with scientists and other advisors who are embedded in research and open science. We believe that learning and building together with these partners will be critical for understanding user needs and incorporating historical lessons.
Who are we looking for?
Ideal candidates are high-agency, creative builders with a sense of urgency. Astera is looking for ambitious entrepreneurs with a product mindset and a strong drive to optimize for user experience. We want to identify collaborative candidates who are eager to tackle the technical challenges of improving and scaling scientific dialogue beyond traditional academic communities. We encourage candidates who bring a unique technological skillset and are willing to rapidly iterate on the basis of key constraints and user needs.
Examples of people who would be qualified to be a Science EIR at Astera:
- Product designers who have an idea for a technical innovation that will catalyze a new era in scientific information exchange.
- Software engineers or platform builders who want to open up new possibilities for innovation by reinventing the underlying infrastructure for sharing data and other scientific information.
- Entrepreneurs with deep user experience and ideas for tools that would lower the barrier to entry and make open science practices easier to adopt.
- Scientists who have technical skills, a bespoke tool, and a viable plan to scale, but need time and resources to work on it.
For the first cohort of Science EIRs, Astera identified a few key priorities. We are interested in the development and testing of new tools, platforms, infrastructures, and strategies that address a particular technological bottleneck to open and adaptable scientific exchange. Our current focus is on the life sciences where research requires both reading and contributing scientific information. We will prioritize ideas that manage these dual needs and we would be excited to test novel strategies for both academic and non-academic scientists.
Process and Selection
Astera is conducting an open call to identify candidates for the Science EIR program. A simple process will be used to sort submissions, interview ideal candidates, and select Science EIRs. We will evaluate individual entrepreneurial potential, usefulness of the experiment, and alignment with funder priorities.
Please send your resume and a cover letter that describes your professional background, the problem you are addressing, and your proposed solution. We expect that your ideas are a starting point for future iterations. Please let us know explicitly if you are flexible and willing to collaboratively shape your idea prior to starting a potential residency at Astera. If applicable, we would like to know about previous entrepreneurial experience, relevant organizations you may have started, and/or milestones you have achieved so far.
Please include a brief description and justification for your timeline and budget, which should include your own compensation as well as any team or additional resources you may need. You should also indicate whether you plan to be on-site, remote, or hybrid. Remote or hybrid candidates may apply with the understanding that you may be asked to visit on-site periodically to enable creative synergy amongst EIRs and advisors.
The selection process for these proposals will be expedient and internal. A small team of advisors from open science, publishing, and tech will be asked to evaluate potential candidates and identify creative individuals with transformational ideas. Top candidates will be invited for a more extensive interview process. Qualified candidates will be advanced based on the following criteria.
- Potential of individual
- Importance of problem
- Impact of solution
- Alignment with FAIR principles
We will review ideas quarterly. The opportunities are still open and the next review will begin March 25, 2024. We will prioritize candidates who are able to start within 3 months of submission. We will not be providing preliminary feedback on applications.