There is growing public interest in alternatives to intellectual property including, but not limited to, prizes and government grants. We argue that there is no single best mechanism for supporting research. Rather, mechanisms can only be compared within specific creative environments. We collect various historical and contemporary examples of alternative incentives, and relate them to models of the creative process. We give an explanation for why federally funded R&D has moved from an intramural activity to largely a grant process. Finally, we observe that much research is supported by a hybrid system of public and private sponsorship, and explain why this makes sense in some circumstances.