Eric and Wendy Schmidt Transformative Technology Fund
The Eric and Wendy Schmidt Transformative Technology Fund was established at Princeton in 2009 by Google CEO and Princeton alumnus Eric Schmidt and his wife, Wendy. The Schmidts created the $25 million endowment fund for the invention, development and utilization of cutting-edge technology that has the capacity to transform research in the natural sciences and engineering.
The Schmidt Fund is used to support the invention or implementation of entirely new technologies that will have a major impact on a field of research or to acquire a piece of equipment or an enabling technology that will change the direction of research in a field. Unlike most endowments, the fund does not need to be spent evenly from year to year. The dean for research has discretion to recommend that no grants be awarded in years when there are no sufficiently compelling proposals, and to spend down principal as well as income in years when there are many compelling ideas. Funding may be for one year or over multiple years.
Requests for proposals are issued regularly to the faculty. An internal peer review committee chaired by the dean for research vets all proposals and consults with external experts, as needed. The dean then makes recommendations to the president for approval.
"In coming to their recommendations the peer review committee and the outside experts will be asked to weigh the overall quality and innovativeness of the research being proposed as well as its significance and likely impact on the field," President Shirley M. Tilghman said in a 2009 announcement about the Schmidt Fund. "The intent is to fund risk-taking projects, understanding that with risk comes not only the potential for huge reward, but some frequency of failure. What makes this fund unique is the donors' willingness to accept that level of risk in return for the potential of truly exciting new discoveries."