Unitary Fund

Because evolution is unitary.


Q: Can anyone apply?
Yes - any age, any country, no credentials required.

Q: What type of project qualifies?
Any project that will benefit humanity that leverages or supports quantum technology. Open source and/or open publication is not a dogmatic requirement - though we would recommend it as a starting point. It is, however, important to see a rationale for any exceptions (for example if you think it'd be best for the world to reserve the IP for a company).

Q: Is there a duration for projects?
We would prefer projects to be completed within 3-6 months. However, if there is a reason that your project should have a longer time window then include that in your application and we will consider it.

Q: What do I get if I win?
We'll give you cash 50% up front. We'll check in with you during the project before sending the second half. Then we'll do a follow-up phone call and/or email at the end to hear how it went. Payment will come by Paypal or wire transfer.

Additionally, in your application you can mark if you'd like to receive access to Rigetti QCS and IBMQ (read here our blog post about the IBM Q benefits). If you are selected for a grant then you will get this access as well.

We'll publish a list of all the winners on unitary.fund after they've been selected. At completion we'll ask you to submit a short summary of the project that can be posted online. During the project, you don't need to make regular reports on your progress (though we'd be happy to hear from you).

Q: What happens at the halfway check-in?
We'll have a call with you and our advisors where we want to know:

  • What have you built so far?
  • What are you building next?
  • What lessons have you learned so far?
  • How can we help with what is coming next?
This helps evaluate if the project is on-track to merit the second half of grant funding.

Q: What happens if my project doesn't progress sufficiently in the first half?
We expect this to happen sometimes because we fund risky, early stage projects. If all projects succeeded, then we wouldn't be taking on sufficient risk. If this happens with your project, then the second half won't be funded. Still we'd encourage you to think about failure as a critical part of learning and exploration. For example, we'll be happy to look at future proposals from previous grantees who didn't succeed in their first attempt. We know you'll have learned from the experience.

Q: What are the key dates?
There are no key dates! Applications are rolling until all grant money has been allocated.

Q: What kind of projects are you looking for?
Quantum technology is a nascent field, so we're open-minded. Your project can be:

  • contributing to an existing open source project
  • creating a new framework or tool
  • researching a new algorithm
  • building a quantum hardware prototype
  • running a new workshop or course
  • applying an existing algorithm to a new problem
  • creating or curating a free dataset that others can use
  • educating, explaining, or otherwise helping people learn new or existing techniques

…or anything else that feels like it would help make quantum technology useful faster.

In some cases, in particular for projects involving hardware, we know that our grant likely won't be enough for the whole project. We're happen for our grant to supplement existing work, though we would like to see justification in your application for why the project could use our support.

Q: Do you fund projects that are contributions to existing open source packages and not just stand alone projects?
Yes! In many cases contributing to an existing project/package will help your work have a lot more impact. We often have recommended this approach to applicants.

Q: How will you select the winners?
We're looking for smart people with interesting ideas that could be useful to the world. We pay extra attention to projects that seem like they won't get funded another way.

Q: What are project funds often used for?
In your application, we ask how you plan to use the funds. Each project is different and we encourage creative suggestions for how to make best use of the grants. Previous successful grants have used funds for:

  • developer or researcher time
  • hardware or software licenses
  • publication or distribution costs
  • hosting and compute resources
  • contributions to open source tools used by the project
  • travel expenses
Q: I have a job. Can I still apply?
Yes! Anyone can apply. You just need to make sure that you don't conflict with any IP contract you've signed with your employer.

Q: Can teams apply?
Yes. Multiple people can apply together as a team. Please fill out a single application, but provide background information for each person in the team. You should designate a lead person to coordinate the application as well as receive and distribute/spend the money.

Q: Can I apply multiple times?
Yes, you can apply as often as you like. You can win multiple times and we will consider repeat funding to continue to grow a project to the next level.

Q: I love this idea and I want to help! Can I provide additional funding, datasets, mentorship, or help reviewing applications?
Yes! Thank you for being awesome! If you want to contribute in any way, please email us at contribute@unitary.fund.

Q: Are there any strings attached?
The money is a gift. It's not an equity investment or loan, and we won't own any of your intellectual property. Our only request is that you think about how to pay it forward to others.

Q: How long should I expect a reply?
We aim to get back to applicants within two weeks.

Q: Are applications private?
Yes. Applications are only reviewed by the Unitary Fund team and advisors and are kept confidential.

Q: Where did you get the idea to do this?
This program is inspired by, and directly borrows from Nat Friedman and Daniel Gross and their AI Grant Program. Thanks, Nat and Daniel!

That program is inspired by, and directly borrows many elements from Nadia Eghbal and her no-strings-attached grant program. Thanks, Nadia!

This website is hosted on github, and our community follows this code of conduct.

If you have suggestions for changes then please open up a pull request!

©2020 Unitary Fund