Wellcome Leap will build bold, unconventional programmes and fund them at scale. These will be programmes that target global human health challenges, with the goal of achieving breakthrough scientific and technological solutions within five to ten years.
With initial funding of $300 million, Leap is led by former director of the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Regina E. Dugan, and former Illumina CEO, Jay Flatley. It will operate independently from Wellcome to encourage speed, agility and an appetite for risk-taking.
What we want Wellcome Leap to achieve
Wellcome Leap will aim to deliver breakthroughs that could fundamentally change science and transform human health over five to ten years.
The high-risk nature of this funding approach means that not all goals will be achieved. And we accept and embrace that, as we know that failure is an inherent part of innovation.
For us, Leap will be successful if, by 2030, it has produced a small number of breakthroughs that:
open up new areas of research and allow new pressing scientific questions to be explored
change existing practice, theories, concepts, standards or approaches used within a field or scientific area
transform how a health problem is addressed
are delivered in 5-10 years rather than 20 years
are picked up for further funding, development or commercialisation.
By breakthrough we mean a significant development or achievement, such as the production of a new technology, field of science, industry or research community.
How Wellcome Leap will work
Leap will take a different funding approach to the rest of Wellcome, and the way ideas are usually funded in the health and life sciences sector. The inspiration for it comes from the technology and venture capital industries – taking on early-stage, high-risk ideas, funding at scale, and making fast and agile decisions across a portfolio of programmes.
It will apply these principles to a small number of goal-focused programmes in the health and life sciences that will be driven by impact, not commercial return, and will operate in line with Wellcome’s charitable mission.
Leap will support and bring together scientists, technologists and innovators across different disciplines, sectors and communities to work in parallel and solve problems differently. They could be from anywhere in the world – what’s key is their vision and original thinking.