Crowdfunding Science

What is crowdfunding and why is it so popular for the last few years?

By definition, it is a practice of funding a project or venture by raising many small amounts of money from a large number of people, typically via the internet. Which is to say, it helps many companies and individual entrepreneurs to get a financial injection for their idea to come to fruition. Typically, the funds are raised for a single project, product, service or research.

How about crowdfunding science? There are plenty of crowdfunding portals for scientific research, which are often run by universities or institutions. Usually, the scientific projects are funded directly by government grants (e.g., from the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, etc.) or by companies doing research and development, and by non-profit foundations.

General crowdfunding platforms enable scientists to launch their project or product, however not their research. Amongst many, the most recognizable are Kickstarter, Crowdfunder, Indiegogo, RocketHub and Pozible. However, there are a significantly lower number of backers who support scientific ideas compared to those that support popular items, therefore fundraising a science project is often much more difficult.

Several crowdfunding platforms are specifically focused on research.

For that reason, several crowdfunding platforms are specifically focused on research in life sciences, health, technologies and humanities. For example, Experiment is a platform for funding scientific discoveries. There is no middleman or overhead involved and backers’ funds go directly to the scientists. This is a great alternative form of financing scientific research in comparison with the regular grants since scientists retain around 50-60% of all financial means. The downside of Experiment is that they are only hosting projects run by scientists who are based in the United States.

Another one is Consano which is dedicated to the medical research. Only top quality projects are submitted to Consano since it works closely with the technology transfer office of each medical university or research institution. Unfortunately, this platform is as well accessible only to researchers from the United States.

There is a well-known crowdfunding website in Australia, called FundScience, which, in contrast to other existing platforms, does not charge fees for any of their campaigns. They are using a Stretch Goal model, where the funding target is successively increased after the original crowdfunding goal is met in order to maximize the donations.

All three described platforms are exclusively used for funding scientific research, so in case you wish to finance a company startup or a pre-sale of a product you have to turn to general platforms like Kickstarter.

How can we make sure that funding goes to the legitimate science projects?

There is no surprise scientists are going for these kind of funding opportunities if we consider the fact that nowadays universities and research institutions often have problems to get enough grant money to fund their projects. Although crowdfunding of science can be a viable option for fundraising, a less pleasant question arises: How can we make sure that funding goes to the most legitimate science projects? At the moment, we cannot.

Source: Source: bit.ly/1VmbcUSlP