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Succeeding with Gates

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation grant winners rave about the organisation, but for those on the outside, the funder’s secrecy can make it hard to know how to approach the process. Previous winners gave Sam Lemonick a few straightforward pieces of advice.

Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft and frequently ranked the richest man in the world, started the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 1996. Ten years later, investor Warren Buffet pledged more than $30 billion (£20bn) to the organisation, allowing Gates to take the operation to a new scale.

Gates was an early proponent of the grand challenges funding model: addressing large, intractable problems such as malaria eradication, by spending a lot of money on high-risk projects with potentially high rewards. Since then, the foundation has added a lower tier of grants, called Grand Challenges Explorations. These $100,000 awards can lead to more rounds of funding for successful projects.

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