Investment Strategy

How We Fund Research for Impact

​Stanford Impact Labs’ investment strategy springs from our founding agenda: to enable teams of Stanford scholars to work with the public, social, and private sectors to tackle social problems using human creativity, rigorous evidence, and innovative technology. 

We believe actionable, solutions-focused social science research must happen in partnership with communities, industry, and government.

Our investments spur teams to jointly frame problems, develop learning agendas, generate and test hypotheses, iterate on intervention strategies, and scale solutions. Thus, our investment criteria emphasize selecting for, and supporting, strong, equitable partnerships where partners play important and complementary roles. 

When we invest, we expect to see a return–not in money, but in terms of outcomes that improve people’s lives. We prioritize investments that can improve the lives of historically oppressed or marginalized communities.

A Stage-Based Strategy

We make staged and sequenced investments to catalyze impact labs at different phases in generating new evidence and practical solutions. Our portfolio-based approach allows us to take bold bets against big problems. We fund with the recognition that while not every investment will be successful, those that do yield breakthroughs will have an outsized impact on really challenging problems.

Investment Graphic

Our stage-based approach allows us to deploy progressively larger amounts of resources along the pipeline from initial discovery to large-scale impact. At each stage, we allocate funding competitively. 

The labs we fund focus on social problems that faculty and practitioners identify as most urgent and where they believe there is the most potential to make progress. We do not have fixed areas of focus. We are designed to be agile, flexible, and responsive to the changing issues in society, priorities and concerns of external partners, and the shifting expertise and capacity of faculty and scholars.

Which Stage Should I Apply For?