Dec. 12, 2018


National Academies Keck Futures Initiative Publishes Program Summary Sharing Lessons from 15 Years of Igniting Innovation at the Intersections of Disciplines

WASHINGTON – The National Academies Keck Futures Initiative (NAKFI) is pleased to announce the publication of Collaborations of Consequence: NAKFI’s 15 Years of Igniting Innovation at the Intersections of Disciplines.  This publication marks the culmination of the Futures Initiative, a program of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the National Academy of Medicine supported by a 15-year, $40 million grant the W.M. Keck Foundation to advance the future of science, engineering, and medicine through interdisciplinary research.  The report will carry forward NAKFI’s legacy beyond its role as an activity of the National Academies. An accompanying video highlights the results of the program through stories of several NAKFI alumni.

From 2003 to 2017, more than 2,000 researchers across disciplines and sectors attended NAKFI’s annual “think-tank” style conference to contemplate real-world challenges. Seed grants awarded to conference participants enabled further pursuit of bold, new research and ideas that originated at the conferences. Similar to start-up capital in the business world, NAKFI considered these grants “venture science.”  The approach developed over 15 years has become a reliable incubator for new discoveries and collaborations.  Today, NAKFI grantees have generated more than $158 million in follow-on funding, 205 publications, and six patents.  NAKFI’s legacy will be found in the future scientific achievements and professional accomplishments of the program’s alumni, the use of its model by others, and through the winners of the NAKFI Challenge.

The profound implications of the dynamics explored in the NAKFI program create new imperatives to challenge the traditional boundaries between scientists and non-scientists, competition and collaboration, process and outcome, inquiry and knowledge, and art/design and science through strategies that engage collective brain power, spark human curiosity, and forge innovative paths to discovery.

“The NAKFI program evolved over time to become an extraordinary framework for generating novel and imaginative solutions from diverse teams to address complex problems,” said Marcia McNutt, president, National Academy of Sciences.  “This publication will capture what was learned so that the NAKFI legacy will live on.”    

“The legacy of the Futures Initiative is its dynamic and innovative approach to encouraging collaboration,” said C. D. Mote, Jr., president, National Academy of Engineering. “I am confident that the lessons shared in this publication will energize continued interdisciplinary efforts to address the pressing issues facing the nation and the world.”

“The vision and support of the W.M. Keck Foundation and the National Academies launched the Futures Initiative, and the enthusiastic support of its program participants contributed to its success,” commented Victor J. Dzau, president, National Academy of Medicine.  “With the successful completion of its 15-year mission and the publication of this volume, NAKFI’s legacy is available to address the challenges of today and tomorrow.”

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine and the W.M. Keck Foundation believe considerable scientific progress and social benefit will be achieved by providing a counterbalance to the tendency to isolate research within existing academic fields.  The Futures Initiative enabled researchers from different disciplines to focus on new questions in entirely new ways, and to encourage better communication among scientists as well as between the scientific community and the public.  For more information about NAKFI, please visit  

The National Academies of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the National Academy of Medicine are private, nonprofit institutions that recognize excellence in their fields and work together to provide independent, objective analysis and advice to the nation to solve complex problems and inform public policy decisions related to science, technology, and medicine.  The Academies operate under an 1863 congressional charter to the National Academy of Sciences, signed by President Lincoln.

Based in Los Angeles, the W. M. Keck Foundation was established in 1954 by the late W. M. Keck, founder of the Superior Oil Company.  The Foundation’s grant making is focused primarily on pioneering efforts in the areas of medical research, science and engineering and undergraduate education.  The Foundation also maintains a Southern California Grant Program that provides support for the Los Angeles community, with a special emphasis on children and youth.  For more information, please visit 

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Molly Galvin, Director of Executive Communications
Office of News and Public Information
202-334-2138; e-mail

Anne Heberger Marino, Senior Program Director
National Academies Keck Futures Initiative