July 18, 2018

Mercatus Center Launches Emergent Ventures


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The Mercatus Center at George Mason University announced the launch of Emergent Ventures, an incubator fellowship and grant program for social entrepreneurs with highly scalable ideas for meaningfully improving society.

Launched with a $1 million grant from the Thiel Foundation, Emergent Ventures will provide fellowships to social entrepreneurs to test and advance highly scalable “zero to one” ideas that advance social change, prosperity, and wellbeing.

“Throughout the past year, Mercatus scholars have explored their personal and policy moonshots; Emergent Ventures is a step to making those moonshots a reality,” said Tyler Cowen, faculty director of the Mercatus Center. “By finding and taking chances on risk-taking, talented people with bold ideas, I believe we can reinvent the capacity for an intellectually-oriented philanthropy to improve the world.”

“Academics avoid risk because they want their peers’ esteem; venture capitalists avoid risk because they want reliable profits,” said Thiel Foundation president Blake Masters. “We support Emergent Ventures’ mission to fill the gap with bets on new ideas that are not yet proven but promising.”

Emergent Ventures builds on the strength of over 35 years of student fellowships awarded by the Mercatus Center to graduate students at George Mason and at other universities throughout the world. Previous Mercatus alumni have gone on to careers in academia, public policy, business, and the non-profit sector.

In addition to financial support, participants will have access to investor, mentor, and co-creator networks in the George Mason community and across the country. “We hope to learn from them just as they will learn from us,” remarked Cowen.

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