Top U.S. Innovators Join Benefunder in Fueling Nation's Clean Energy Future

First-of-its-Kind Clean Energy Impact Fund to Connect Philanthropists With Top Researchers

October 15, 2015 – In our nation’s university labs, top researchers are working on transformative clean energy innovations such as printable solar cells, global water purification, algae biofuel technology, improved battery storage technology, powerful electric vehicles, and more. These NextGen technologies promise to change the world. But, in order to make an impact on society, these novel innovations need funding.

Benefunder – which is building the first marketplace for research funding – is at the forefront of pushing this “green” research and commercialization movement forward. Through its new Clean Energy Impact Fund, a unique philanthropic based initiative, Benefunder plans to spark a passionate appeal to donors who want to have a direct impact on solving some of our nation’s biggest energy issues. Benefunder hopes this fund will become the largest of its kind.

“We need donors and grant makers to engage in innovative ways, such as funding breakthrough discoveries happening in our nation's academic labs,” said Christian Braemer, Benefunder’s cofounder and CEO. “It is our best hope in fast tracking a viable clean energy market, while reducing our environmental footprint.”

The Clean Energy Impact Fund will focus on advancing all areas of clean energy, including basic and applied research, with an emphasis on commercializing new methods and technologies. Benefunder’s clean energy innovators includes 40 researchers from top institutions in the country, including Harvard, Duke, the University of California, San Diego, Cornell, The University of Texas at Austin, Rice, and Georgia Tech. These innovators are working on promising new breakthroughs in power production, storage, and delivery, as well as policy. Opportunities for funding these initiatives will also include impact investments in promising commercialized technologies that might be too risky or early for more traditional funding.

One of those promising technologies is safe, cost-effective storage for intermittent solar and wind-generated electricity being developed by Michael Aziz, an engineer at Harvard University.

“Finding the energy to power human civilization without unacceptable damage to the environment is the greatest challenge facing humanity this century. Universities need to research and develop thousands of innovative ideas if scores of them are to successfully grow to help meet this challenge,” Aziz said. “With government research proposal funding rates sinking toward 10% or lower, many of us researchers spend more time writing proposals than innovating in the lab. Benefunder is in a position to have an enormous impact on university research in clean energy through philanthropic giving.”

Other top researchers included in Benefunder’s Clean Energy Impact Fund include:

Darren Lipomia nanoengineer at UC San Diego who is pioneering the discovery of ultra-low-cost solar technologies.

Yushan Yana chemical engineer at the University of Delaware who is designing more efficient and lower cost zero-emission fuel cells, which are a promising solution for powering cars, homes, and devices.

Serena DeBeer, a chemist at Cornell University who is finding ways to efficiently store and release energy in chemical bonds.


How the Clean Energy Fund Works:

Benefunder’s strategy is to diversify resources to a wide range of top clean energy researchers – from renewable energy technologies to energy efficiency, and infrastructure and resources – with equal periodic distributions to all researchers in the fund, as well as regular updates on progress and milestones to donors. Donors can make contributions of any size, and funds will be distributed to researchers on a quarterly basis. As research results in new company formation, the fund will also provide early-stage investment capital for select opportunities.

“By shifting the traditional expensive and time-consuming grant funding model, Benefunder is putting more resources in the hands of innovators,” Braemer said. “Our nation’s academic research institutions are one of our most important infrastructures. Increasing funding in the clean energy space is one of the wisest investments we can all make, and Benefunder is here to make it easy, fun, and efficient, while allowing donors to make a deeper impact for current and future generations.”


About Benefunder:

Benefunder is a foundation for innovation that has created a new funding channel for research while providing philanthropists with a smarter and more meaningful way to give.

Through our Charitable Impact Fund, we connect donors with the nation’s top innovators across all fields of study, including life sciences, technology, the environment and education, and the arts and humanities. Benefunder – named the Best Do-Gooder StartUp in 2015 – has the largest active researcher portal in the United States, with more than 650 top researchers who are working on both basic research and breakthrough treatments and solutions that will greatly impact and benefit society. More information at