New Emergent Ventures Vertical Supports Talent Identification Projects

Announcing Fast Grants for Global Talent

Arlington, VA—The Mercatus Center at George Mason University is pleased to announce a new vertical of Emergent Ventures (EV) dedicated to supporting the identification of underrepresented talent in the STEM fields. This new project, Fast Grants for Global Talent, is led by EV founder Dr. Tyler Cowen. It will offer funding to individuals with innovative ideas for fostering early-stage STEM talent discovery and development, to increase the representation of individuals from diverse communities in the fields of science and technology.

Funding through Fast Grants for Global Talent may be used to support talent identification programs, the development and testing of assessment tools, early-stage talent ventures, or mentorship and networking programs. The application process is intended to take less than 30 minutes and is open to all, offering opportunities to individuals who may otherwise be unable to access support from traditional talent pipelines. The ultimate goal of the program is to foster a more inclusive and diverse global talent ecosystem within STEM fields.

“Our goal is to help correct the institutional failure that arises from inadequate investment in talent development,” said Dr. Cowen. “In many cases, economic and social barriers prevent talented individuals from reaching their full potential. However, these barriers can be reduced by providing early-stage support and resources to entrepreneurs focused on talent development. Focusing efforts on discovering and nurturing talent from underrepresented groups will support richer, more diverse talent pools throughout the world.”

Dr. David Deming from the Harvard Kennedy School and Dr. Heidi Williams from Dartmouth College will be co-leading a parallel initiative focused on supporting researchers at academic institutions working on research projects in this area. Dr. Williams also serves as an advisor to this EV initiative. 

“There is growing recognition that while the seeds of talent in mathematics and the sciences are very broadly distributed, opportunities to develop this talent are not,” said Dr. Williams. “We are excited to have this opportunity to support research aimed at sending more individuals from more communities to the frontiers of science and technology.” 

Dr. Cowen created Emergent Ventures in 2018 as an incubator fellowship and grant program for social entrepreneurs with highly scalable ideas for meaningfully improving society. In 2020, two issue-specific verticals developed from the initial program. EV India supports entrepreneurs focusing on “moonshot” projects related to India, and FastGrants has awarded over $50 million to support scientific research and treatments for COVID-19. This latest tranche is a natural addition to the Emergent Ventures portfolio, building on Dr. Cowen’s 2022 book, Talent: How to Identify Energizers, Creatives, and Winners Around the World, co-authored with Daniel Gross.

Applications for Fast Grants for Global Talent are now open at  When you fill out your application, note how your project relates to talent identification. There is no application deadline, but applicants are encouraged to apply quickly, as funds are limited.

Eddie Mandhry, a senior fellow at Schmidt Futures, serves as an advisor to these initiatives, which are funded by a group of generous supporters including the Polynera Fund.