PRIZE ENCOURAGES SCIENTISTS TO THINK LIKE ENTREPRENEURS

BIOLOGIST THINKS BIG, WINS CASH

RESOURCES

Don't let your great idea gather dust on the dissertation shelf. Turn it into cash. Last week, the Merrill Lynch Forum announced the second round of winners of their Innovation Grants Competition, awarding almost a quarter-million dollars in 2 years to young scientists and engineers who could successfully explain the commercial applications of their dissertation research.

Next Wave takes a closer look at the competition. Writer Liz Marshall interviews Human Genome Sciences CEO William Haseltine and other competition judges to find out what they look for in an application. We also profile Bruce Lahn, who won third place for his proposal to create a male contraceptive.

The Prize

The Merrill Lynch Innovation Grants Competition awards up to eight cash prizes: The winner receives $50,000, two runners-up receive $20,000 each, and two third-place winners collect $10,000 each. The Merrill Lynch Forum also reserves the right to award up to three additional $3000 "discretionary grants" to recognize other outstanding proposals.

And it's not just the graduate students who are rewarded. The competition reaches out to the dissertation advisors as well, inviting them and the students to a day in New York City, complete with a visit to the New York Stock Exchange and dinner with the judges. The alma mater of each of the top five winners also receives $5000. The university with the most entrants overall gets a $6000 bonus. --Liz Marshall