Being a scientist means that you’re investigating why something happens and how any corrective actions can be taken to fix any problems. But any project requires funding and it’s here where researchers spend a great deal of their time — not working on solutions, but rather searching and composing proposals for grants. Instrumentl has launched to streamline this process, using artificial intelligence to pair scientists with the best grants across federal, corporate, state, and private levels for their projects.
Researchers enter details about their project and Instrumentl handles the rest to match them with the best grants, removing the task of scouring the internet or databases. The company provides email notifications and dashboard alerts about upcoming deadlines while also constantly providing updates on new funding options that pop up. Some of the institutions that have received grants through Instrumentl include the Smithsonian, McGill, Cornell University, and the University of Oxford.
Instrumentl’s head of product Gauri Manglik tells VentureBeat that his company is solving a big pain point in the research community — scientists are spending “half of their time looking for and applying to grants which is crazy because it means our scientific progress is at half capacity.”
Angela Braren, cofounder and chief executive, promises that the company will work for researchers in any industry, whether it’s hard science, social sciences, humanities, or anything else — at launch it’s focusing on the biological sciences space. But don’t call Instrumentl a crowdsourcing platform because it’s not, although it was one in a previous life. Rather, the current iteration of the service only automates the search process, leaving the actual application up to the researcher.
Grants on the platform range from $1,000 to $100 million. However, when it comes to ensuring that research projects are legitimate and protect grant providers, Instrumentl claims that it’s not responsible for these checks with that duty falling on funders who have expert panels. “What is our responsibility [sic] is discovering and recommending grants where our researchers have the highest change of success,” Braren explained offering the analogy that “we’re kind of like Tinder for research grants.”
Using Instrumentl is free for 14 days and requires no long-term contract. However, there are paid plans starting at $29 per month for individual researchers that have one project that needs funding to $35 per month per project for larger teams.
The company was started by Braren and fellow cofounder Katharine Corriveau based on their experiences as researchers. Braren previously worked as a grants administrator and discovered the process was broken and felt there needed to be a better way. Right now, researchers organized their grant proposals using Microsoft Word and Google, but the launch of Instrumentl could bring normalcy to the process and enable scientists to get back to focusing on things that could potentially save lives or change the world.
“There’s $160 billion in research grant funding that’s floating around, not being allocated efficiently,” Braren shared. “Researchers waste half of their week just trying to find and apply to these opportunities. That’s 50 percent of their week that they’re NOT working to mitigate climate change and cure disease. We’re working to change this.”