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Rockstars Stars of Innovation


By Christian Braemer

Cofounder & CEO, Benefunder


I had the pleasure of participating in CONNECT's annual  Rock Stars of Innovation for a fireside chat alongside Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute's Michael Jackson last week. One of the keynotes was given by our very own Kevin Murphy, and we heard from a host of San Diego industry leaders, like Diego Miralles, Head of Innovation for Janssen Labs; Jack Young, Senior Director, Qualcomm Ventures; and Keith Murphy, CEO of Organovo.


The focus of the event centered around innovations in regenerative medicine, wearable health, gene therapy, oncology, and nanotechnology that are taking place in San Diego. Two very profound things that struck me included the diversity, depth, and quality of work happening right in our own backyard; and the representation of researchers on Benefunder's platform, who made up the majority of the event's speakers.  


These leading innovators are on the cusp of breakthrough discoveries and solutions that will greatly impact our world, from DNA-customized cancer care to 3D printing in regenerative medicine; modeling brain development and diseases; revolutionary applications in cancer therapy, immunotherapy, and vaccine development; nanotherapeutics for the treatment of infectious bacteria; and novel in-home diagnostic tools. They include:

It is humbling to see that so many top San Diego innovators have placed their trust in us to help reduce the innovation deficit by providing a new and more direct funding channel for research. It reminded me of the level of responsibility we have to help move these research causes forward since a breakthrough in any one of these areas would have a positive effect in all of our lives.


One of the things I pointed out during my discussion was the under representation of research funding in philanthropy (roughly 3%), and the inefficiencies that may contribute to that.  


Traditional charities carry high overhead; private foundations can be expensive and time consuming to manage; community foundations focus locally; and it's difficult for individuals to have a meaningful impact despite the fact that they make up roughly 80% ($240 billion) of all giving.  


We hope that by providing a streamlined solution for individuals, companies, and foundations to find, fund, and follow top innovators, we will have made a major impact, and in turn, help accelerate the growth of the entrepreneurial innovation economy in America.



To learn more about our Charitable Innovation Fund, please contact
Tom Paparatto at
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Welcome to the Benefunder Impact Report, a bimonthly newsletter created to inform and inspire. Our mission is to help create a new marketplace for planned giving, while fueling innovation. 


Benefunder Joins White House Clean Energy Investment Summit


Responding to the President's call to action to expand private sector investment in solutions to climate change, Benefunder participated in the White House Clean Energy Investment Summit on June 16. The summit brought together foundations and mission-driven institutional investors to discuss ways to scale up investment in clean energy innovation. Read more here.  



Benefunder Partners with University of Wisconsin to Accelerate Research & Innovation  


Benefunder, a foundation that connects philanthropists with top research causes across the nation, has added another university partnership to its platform to support the next generation of leading researchers and to help move innovations forward.  


Under the collaboration, select researchers from the UW-Madison representing a range of fields -- including health sciences, engineering, and law -- will be profiled on Benefunder's platform.

Read more here.





Growing Your Practice Through Philanthropy


The industry is about to witness the largest transfer of wealth in U.S. history, with an estimate of more than $30 trillion passing from boomers to generation Xer's and millennials in the next 45 years. These self-motivated, high net worth NextGens want their values to align with their giving, in even bigger numbers than their parents. These clients (ages 25-to-49) are also more likely to be involved in major liquidity events. And, one of their main priorities will be giving back.

In order to separate yourself from the crowd of advisors, and to make a connection with the millennials, it's critical to engage this generation in unexpected ways -- by talking to them about philanthropy.


Keep in mind that the average high net worth client has three advisors; so if you are not talking to them about philanthropy, chances are one of their other advisors is.  


And, you can be assured that no Robo Advisor is going to be appealing to your clients' heartstrings anytime soon. So now is the time to make philanthropy part of your discussion with both existing and prospective clients.  

To find out how Benefunder can help you prospect new clients via philanthropy, please contact Tom Paparatto at





One of the grand challenges facing humanity today is the development of an alternative energy system that is safe, clean, and sustainable. Such a system is no longer reliant upon fossil fuels.    


Yushan Yan, a chemical and biomolecular engineer at the  of the University of Delaware, is developing what he has coined a distributed renewable electrochemical energy and mobility system (DREEMS) to meet the current alternative energy challenge.  His research could lead to affordable, zero-emission fuel cell cars, and enable the widespread deployment of renewable solar and wind energy.  Read more about his fascinating work here.