We are also fundraising for https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/ECiLcmozJHRk2ifAN/portable-mri
to support the rescue of wounded Ukrainian soldiers, aiding them in their challenging fight for survival and freedom
and other similar applications.
Dear DC, I mistakenly posted my responses to your questions directly under my initial topic, rather than under your response.
Dear lastmistborn, I am very grateful to you for your attention and the detailed explanation of potential issues. I will certainly inform DC that I have responded to his message.
I have seen, read, and understand that what you are writing is quite common, and I realize that this often happens, especially when funds are unfamiliar with you.
Furthermore, when I worked as a junior professor at the university, I wrote grants, and these grants were typically accepted. At that time, I also submitted and successfully published in journals such as JACS and Nature. Currently, I can file patent applications and receive patents from the USPTO without the need for significant revisions (i.e., on the first attempt). Our company already holds five granted American patents. This suggests that we have reasonable scientific or commercial results and that our team can quickly grasp the rules for submitting any document and successfully adhere to them.
Of course, we attempted to have our grant applications reviewed by third-party consultants. Unfortunately, we cannot afford to do this repeatedly without results, as consultants typically charge around 10% of the grant's value regardless of whether the application is successful. Due to this, we decided not to use their services, as it is not cost-effective for us.
The essence of our current proposal can be summarized in the following paragraph:
As a German commercial company, we are prepared to manufacture new innovative portable MRI devices (www.mr-nib.com) at cost, which amounts to €15,000 per unit if an order for 200 units is placed or €25,000 per unit if an order for 30 units is placed. We are committed to localizing the devices for the Ukrainian language and providing software updates free of charge for the next 8 years. We aim to deploy these portable MRI devices in conflict zones in Ukraine to save the lives of civilians and soldiers through early diagnosis. Why Ukraine? Partly because we have many relatives and acquaintances there, and we want to offer our assistance. Last year, we privately assisted by supplying uninterruptible power systems, and we would like to help in any way we can now.
We are also open to initiating any other similar humanitarian missions on our own.
We have reached out with this initiative to numerous Ukrainian politicians, including Mykhailo Fedorov, Rustem Umerov, and Volodymyr Klitschko. We have also contacted several politicians in the German Bundestag and approached several American military companies and organizations. Additionally, as mentioned earlier, we have submitted numerous grant applications for similar initiatives to various foundations, customizing each application to align with their objectives.
Unfortunately, discussions either reached a dead end or we received rejections. What was most unpleasant and unexpected for us is that we have never received a justified explanation for why our initiative was not supported.
As an ordinary person, I was genuinely surprised that, for example, a stored guided missile sent to Ukraine costs many times more than what we are requesting for our equipment. Even if that missile doesn't perform as expected, it is often attributed to the incompetence of Ukrainian military personnel. Meanwhile, our initiative for rapid injury diagnosis has failed to garner even the slightest response from anyone.
Dear DC, thank you very much for your response!
> Why do you believe this? How many VCs have you talked to about whether they'd be fine with the lower-cost version you want?
I have spoken with approximately a couple of hundred VCs or VC brokers. With many of them, we discussed how to move forward, and such scenarios often emerged. Maybe I haven't been lucky so far. Then I compared how much time I spent on these conversations and thought about how much useful work could have been done during that time, so I started initiating such conversations less frequently. However, I am, of course, open to reasonable discussions if they arise in the future.
> Have you looked into porting the concept of the public benefit corporation from the US to Germany?
We are in Germany, at least for production.
> Have you asked the grant organizations that you talked to for critical feedback and letting them know you're fine with whatever they say? They would know more than this forum I'm guessing.
About a hundred grant organizations, including CZI, BMGF, Berkshire, Open Philanthropy, simply declined and, unfortunately, did not respond to my request for the reasons for the rejection. Several small funds told me that they are simply not interested in funding it because they have more interesting projects. When I asked for an example of a more interesting project, unfortunately, I did not receive a response. So, I can provide a list of grant organizations that declined my requests in PM, but I have never received a response as to why they declined. Clearly, we tried to write proposals in various variations, often it was still the very first grant proposal of 1-2 pages.
> Why aren't you trying to make money selling your MRI in rich countries first, then use profits to subsidize a cheaper version for poorer countries?
Obviously, we do not have FDA approval yet, and we have not perfected everything to start the FDA and similar approvals.
> You could consider selling to the US, German, or Ukraine militaries as likely customers to start.
Of course, I have tried. Maybe I haven't been lucky so far because I have communicated with 50+ people on this topic, many of them initiated the conversation, but the discussion ended on the 2-3 emails or was sent to some people who did not respond. If you can assist, I would be very grateful.
> My wild guess, based on limited info, at risk of overconfidence, since you asked for what might be the case, is that you have too idealistic a self-image that is preventing you from participating in the normal market processes that would create a positive and self-sustaining financial feedback loop that would allow you to finance sales to poorer countries. I would guess a priori that you should lean into being profit-driven and focus on establishing any demand at all for the product any way you can before offering it at cost or at a loss to poorer countries.
As I mentioned, we are currently funding this project from our own resources, and we are progressing slowly. We are open to any reasonable discussions if they are also commercially beneficial to us. We are also open to conducting research with a full report if we receive a grant.