Innovation doesn’t come cheap. But without proof-of-concept to convince highly competitive granting agencies to fund a daring project, many bold ideas are never put into action. The La Jolla Institute SPARK program was designed to overcome these hurdles. It provides flexible start-up funding of $25,000 to enable young investigators to act on promising projects. It fills the gap between scientists’ imagination and that first solid set of data that allows them to attract additional funding to further their research and ultimately make life-saving discoveries.