Guaana, an Estonia-based platform focused on helping researchers find funding as well as allies and partners for early-stage research projects, has announced a grant of two million UAE dirhams (approximately $544,000) from the Dubai Future Foundation to fund thirty-six proposals detailing radical ideas and solutions for living and working in space.
A total of two hundred and sixty applications from fifty-five countries — more than two hundred of them from top universities — were reviewed and selected without the involvement of a committee. The funded projects will explore a range of ideas and concepts, from the sustainable settlement of other planets, to mining extraterrestrial resources in situ, to using mushrooms as a life-support system for humans.
All eligible proposals were distributed among applicants, who evaluated each other's proposals in a two-stage double-blind peer-review process based on criteria pre-established by DFF. The funding decisions, which were made after about a month of review, were based solely on the collective scoring and feedback. As part of its efforts to achieve full transparency, Guaana publicly shared all funded proposals, including scores and comments.
"When piloting a model that is changing the status quo, it is always hard to predict the outcome," said Guaana CEO Marko Russiver. "We at Guaana can be very proud of how smoothly it all went, despite unorthodox principles such as openness and short-time discipline. Scientists proved that autonomous grant distribution can work. There are many lessons learned from this pilot, and improvements are being implemented to upcoming funding calls."