Tonight the mentors and funders had to make the big decision – what projects go forward for funding, what doesn’t make the cut. It’s uncomfortable – all the more so because the process is so much more public than the usual anonymous peer review. But what’s important is that we’ve got tremendously exciting projects to look forward to, which we really don’t think would have been arrived at any other way. We were looking for a grand vision – real ambition, of a kind that scientists are sometimes reluctant to commit to. But we needed to be sure that, on the very first day of the project, it was clear exactly what the newly starting scientists on the project would do. And, while it’s obvious that for a sufficiently big vision, one can’t expect the route from here to there to be fully mapped out at the outset, we need to be sure that there are no obviously unbridgeable chasms in the way. We know, and the funders know too, that there is a significant risk of failure, but that’s as it has to be.
Now we’re in a tidying up phase; working on the details and doing the necessary, if less exciting, work of finalising the costings and tightening up the project management arrangements. Tomorrow I may be able to give some more details of what the outcome has been; for the moment I’ll say simply that, on the experimental side, we have two different approaches, each highly multidisciplinary, whose outcome is planned to be the software-directed deterministic synthesis of covalently bonded, functional nanoscale objects.