The Neuron Endowment Fund for the support of science was founded in 2010. Our primary mission is to increase the prestige of scientists from the Czech Republic and through their stories to boost national self-confidence within our society.
The founder of the fund is Karel Janeček, mathematician, entrepreneur and patron. Neuron EF was originally established as the ‘Karel Janeček Endowment Fund for the Support of Science and Research’. Alongside Josef Veselka and Monika Vondráková, who has managed the fund from the beginning, the fund attempted to compensate the reduction in public funding for science and research which occurred in 2009. The motivation was to help create the necessary conditions for young scientists to encourage them to return from research abroad back to the Czech Republic. The goal was also to award experienced scientists who are an inspiration to us all and present them to the general public.
The fund started by supporting scientists in three fields: mathematics, medicine and economics. Over time were added physics, chemistry, biology and computer science. A scientific panel comprising leading scientists from the Czech Republic was established for each awarded field. Its purpose was to guarantee that laureates possessed the highest level of expertise. The first prize-giving and granting of support to projects took place in 2010.
Up until the end of 2017, the Neuron Endowment Fund awarded the following prizes and supported these projects:
- Neuron Impuls grants for young and promising scientists up to 40 years of age,
- Neuron Prize for Contribution to World Science,
- Best Science Video Prize as part of Prima ZOOM Neuron Prizes,
- Childhood Dream – placements for young scientists abroad,
- Neuron Expeditions,
- In 2018 the fund entered a new phase of operation.
After analysing and reviewing the methods of supporting scientists applied so far, it became evident that leading practitioners were no longer experiencing difficulty acquiring grants to finance their research projects, but instead were lacking funds for their own personal use. Therefore we prepared a new concept (see below) and simultaneously the fund’s foundation was transferred to the new Neuron Founders: Eduard Kučera, Martin Wichterle, Táňa le Moigne, Monika Vondráková and Pavel Kysilka. The result has been a general opening up of the fund. This expansion has also had an international dimension, thanks to the formation of the fund’s international scientific panel.
Since 2018 the fund’s strategy has centered on the following three priorities:
1/ Awarding the prestigious scientific Neuron Prize to the best scientists – the awards come with a generous sum of prize money, intended for personal use. This has been made possible thanks to our developing a unique concept of so-called modern patronage. The new laureates are also jointly picked by our international scientific panel.
2/ Popularizing science and familiarizing the Czech public with the inspiring stories of leading figures in Czech science. We believe that such a strategy supports our society’s sense of national self-confidence and raises the prestige of scientists among our people. With our Neuron Expeditions project we make it possible for scientists to conduct research beyond our borders and expand the horizons of the Czech public.
3/ We bring together the worlds of science and business We create the space and an environment for discussions between outstanding scientists and respected entrepreneurs, generating fertile soil for future groundbreaking projects.
Since first being set up, the fund has awarded prize-money to scientists and funded expeditions totalling 60 million Czech crowns.
Mrs. Monika Vondrakova
Chair of the Neuron EF management board