Tool Foundry: Advancing Accessible Tools for Scientific Discovery

What if everyone had access to powerful tools for scientific learning and problem solving? Scientific discovery tools—from telescopes to magnetometers—help us answer questions and generate knowledge. But many powerful tools are too expensive or too difficult for non-experts to use.

Earlier this month, Luminary Labs launched Tool Foundry to advance scientific discovery tools that anyone can use. The initiative is funded by grants from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and Schmidt Futures to expand access to science.

Accessible tools can inspire a deeper interest in science and empower people to indulge their curiosity, explore their environments, and solve problems relevant to their own communities.

An Accelerator for Low-cost, High-quality, and Easy-to-Use Tools

Tool Foundry’s four-month accelerator is looking for makers, tinkerers, inventors, citizen scientists, and researchers who have started prototyping new tools but need help to develop and scale.

Accelerator applications are open through May 30, 2019. Tool Foundry is looking for high-potential teams with prototypes for low-cost, physical tools that support inquiry, observation, and data collection across scientific domains.

As part of the accelerator, each cohort team will receive $50,000 in non-dilutive funding, expert mentorship, technical guidance, virtual learning modules, user testing opportunities, and an in-person boot camp at the Autodesk Technology Center in San Francisco.

Click here to view an informational webinar with insider tips for applying to the accelerator.

Three Ways Science Centers Can Be Part of Tool Foundry

Science centers and museums play an important role in bringing accessible tools to curious people everywhere. Your community could be the first to use new tools for scientific learning and exploration! Here’s how to get involved with Tool Foundry:

1. Invite Makers and Inventors to Apply for the Accelerator (and Submit Your Own Application)

Is your organization developing tools for scientific discovery? What about the makers and tinkerers in your community? Tool Foundry’s accelerator is looking for applicants with prototypes for tools that meet real needs. The accelerator is designed to bring together a diverse cohort of teams committed to expanding access to science. The strongest candidates will be well-rounded teams who have tool prototypes, but need help to scale and sustain them. Learn more about the accelerator and share information about Tool Foundry with your community before the May 30 application deadline.

2. Host or Support a Tool-a-Thon

Help makers and inventors in your community turn their creative ideas into prototypes. Consider hosting a prototyping meetup over the next month. (Are you participating in Museum Week, the March for Science, or other science-related events in May? A tool-a-thon can be part of your plans.) Our Tool-a-thon Toolkit makes it easy to host your own event; you can also partner with a local makerspace or fabrication lab to support tool-a-thons in your community. Share your plans with Tool Foundry—email so the team can spread the word on Twitter, Instagram, and the Tool Foundry Journal.

3. Test Prototypes for New Scientific Tools

You have a science-curious community; Tool Foundry’s accelerator cohort has tool prototypes; it’s a perfect match. Later this summer, Tool Foundry will be looking for user communities to test accessible tools. Email for more information about bringing new tools to your science center and surrounding community.


For more information about Tool Foundry, visit or email