Many grants move innovators to build a better mousetrap. But what kinds of incentives inspire a better mouse? Not the short-term, project-focused, risk-averse funding of grantmakers such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH), suggests the tale of Mario Capecchi. Ignoring reviewers, Capecchi sunk his NIH grant into inventing “knockout mice,” which show what different genes do. These revolutionary rodents paved the way for thousands of medical breakthroughs, as well as a Nobel Prize for...

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