The Berkeley Existential Risk Initiative provides operational and administrative support to researchers working on existential risks in a university setting. The idea is to make operations faster and more flexible for these groups—not only to make them more directly effective, but also to improve morale by unblocking tasks and projects they care about that are hard to do efficiently through other means (e.g. existing university administration channels).
Some specific examples: Hiring a software engineer, graphic designer, web developer, or copy editor; hiring a research assistant for month on 2 days notice; paying monthly software subscriptions; paying international contractors; buying stuff from a supplier that your university doesn't support.
How beneficial would this same service be to researchers working on global poverty or animal welfare (or other cause areas for that matter) in a university setting?
I'll add some of my preliminary arguments for and against below.
My rough impression is that much more longtermist work is being done at universities within the EA universe and that the non-longtermist EA work is generally not being done at universities - or at least not done with sufficient organization and authority within a university such that they could engage in big contracts.
I think university programs working outside of longtermism are typically just 1-2 professors within a department or are big-but-not-all-that-EA. For example, I can't think of an equivalent to the Global Priorities Institute, Future of Humanity Institute, etc.
But maybe this is a failure of my imagination so I very much welcome others to come forward and say I'm missing something!