Thank you so much for bringing this to our attention. We first want to acknowledge that the process has not been perfect, and we’re very open to improving it, if we run it again. In fact, we’ve actually been having conversations about how the design of the competition can be improved.
We wanted to find a way of both enabling amazing research, and empowering our community to decide where the money goes, while balancing our limited capacity as a relatively small start-up (we don’t have the people-power to analyse 100+ proposals.). To that end, we decided to opt for a public vote. We know that sort of system is open to potential abuse, which is why we’re ultimately deciding who wins using our internal panel of former academics.
To address your concerns directly, I’ve been able to see some of the patterns you spotted. Two of the researchers who submitted Top 5 proposals are from the same university. So, it is likely that they have canvassed jointly for votes. This is not against the rules, but we acknowledge that it’s not ideal, seeing as others may not have had the resources of a joint effort.
This is the first time we’ve run a public competition like this, and we’ve certainly learnt alot along the way. We’d be really keen to get you involved in a discussion about improving the rules, if we decide to do this again. If you have any ideas, feel free to leave them in this thread. But, we will also be opening an informal consultation later next month.
This is ultimately why we wanted to get our community involved. You’re all passionate, and full of great ideas. So, although it can get messy, we know we can work together with you all, to ensure the best outcome for everyone.
I know this doesn’t alleviate your daughter’s disappointment due to missing out on the grant, but I hope this goes some way in addressing your concerns.