Crowdfunding of science leads to innovation and better public engagement

Research labs in universities receive substantial funding from governments. Crowdfunding will never surpass that. But instead of thinking about crowdfunding as a replacement for government and state funding, we must look at it as an alternative source that helps the public to influence government-supported activities in higher education.

The sort of money raised via crowdfunding route is modest. Only a handful projects have got more than US$500,000. My lab alone spends about US$800,000 per year to pay for materials, salaries and travel for around ten graduate students. So it is clear that crowdfunding cannot replace conventional funding.

f6d87gvc-1400769144
New stream

Instead this is an alternate stream of funding that can allow scientists, especially young researchers, to do things differently. Crowdfunded projects often add to the kind of science that is already being done, rather than take away projects that could otherwise receive government funding.

Governments fund science for two main reasons: to find solutions to societal problems and to educate the next generation of engineers and scientists to keep solving such problems. But in recent years, the amount of money invested by governments in the US and the UK has been declining. The pool of ideas actually supported becomes smaller with little to no feedback from the general public.

Crowdfunding research allows the public to turn this around by enabling scientists to find support for projects not on the radar of typical funding agencies, yet enjoying sufficient public interest. This category of research is probably the most obviously deserving of crowdfunding and has already enabled many documentaries, research excursions, and books, often by providing exclusively ideological or intellectual rewards.

Government funding also imposes some restrictions on how students are being educated. While some of the money I receive is in the form of grants where I can diverge from the original proposal as long as the sponsor is happy, this is not the case for contracts, which often need to be followed by the letter. As these funds usually come in response to a research proposal that I conceive and that fits into the trajectory of my research, little room is left for the students’ own ideas to turn into funded projects.

Out of the box

Instead, crowdfunding can empower PhD students with direct access to funds they need to get their ideas of the ground. For instance, a project by a PhD student is aimed at turning carbon dioxide into fuel. As the government has other programs to fund education and museums, little to no funding is set aside in “research grants” for engaging in such activities as they focus on graduate education.

Here, the National Science Foundation in the US is an exception by requiring each proposal to have “broader impact”. Outreach activities at schools or museums are looked upon favorably. But these activities are always a diversion from the proposed research and therefore are only substantial parts of specific programs that are geared to support the development of the principal investigator as teacher-scholar. This requires them to think broadly about the research they are doing, that is to think about their career not only from a scientific, but also from an educational

perspective.

Crowdfunding offers the opportunity to force professors out of the ivory tower and encourage them to engage into activities they otherwise could not, such as developing curricula for school students or exploring the artistic component of their research. For instance, the rewards I am offering in my campaign to create a large swarm of miniature robots are to deploy educational packages into schools or work with artists of the donors’ choice.

analogica, CC BY-NC-SA
There is one important caveat in the crowdfunding euphoria, which might also turn into its biggest benefit: the public only funds things that it understands. Crowdfunding therefore forces scientists to actually think very hard about what it actually is that they are doing and why anyone should care.

Crowdfunding should therefore not be seen as replacing conventional research funding, but as a complement that empowers the public to diverge their tax dollars, pounds and euros into projects they actually care about and want to support. No government will ever expect the public to shift totally from indirectly funding via taxes to directly supporting scientific research. But the public can use crowdfunding to influence which activities are government-supported.

With general platforms, such as Kickstarter, to specialised platforms for science, such as Experiment.com, researchers today have plenty choice of how crowdfund. Universities are also getting in the game. While we must bear in mind the limitations, the future for crowdfunding of science looks bright.

http://theconversation.com/crowdfunding-of-science-leads-to-innovation-and-better-public-engagement-26268

HEADLINE NEWS

This RSS feed URL is deprecated, please update. New URLs can be found in the footers at https://news.google.com/news [...]

ForbesHow This Millennial Built A 7-Figure Business Using Equity CrowdfundingForbesWhen he asked them to help fund his company's crowdfunding campaign, they delivered—exceeding his initial goal fourfold and ranking it one of the fastest and most successfully funded companies on R [...]

WJLAHomeFundMe: Crowdfunding for a down payment | WJLAWJLABOISE, Idaho (KBOI) - You've likely heard of GoFundMe, the crowdfunding website, but have you heard of HomeFundMe?It's a website aimed at raising money for the down payment on a home.There is no repayment! This is a t [...]

Final '68, crowdfunding campaign ends in just one weekPlanetmountainThe crowdfunding campaign for Final '68, the project that aims to document the exploratory phase of the Pietra del Finale between the years 1968 and 1975, will come to an end in seven days time. There are ju [...]

Digital News AsiaNewly licensed Singapore crowdfunding player kickstarts platformDigital News AsiaSINGAPORE start-up, FundTier, launched its crowdfunding platform officially after obtaining the Capital Market Services (CMS) licence in December 2017. Founded by five former bankers, Fun [...]

Crowdfunding site Beam provides job training for homeless 'in a dignified way'CTV NewsHe is among the first to benefit from a high-tech project to use the internet and crowdfunding to help the homeless. The founder is an entrepreneur by the name of Alex Stephany who created [...]

Oval Money surpasses £500000 crowdfunding target in 72 hoursFinextraOval Money's latest fundraising campaign was conducted on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube. The £500,000 target represented nine percent of the company's equity, but the overfunding is increasing the equity t [...]

Brewbound.comFull Circle Brewing Raises $800000 Via Equity Crowd FundingBrewbound.comFRESNO, Calif. – Full Circle Brewing Co., Fresno-based craft brewery, announces their progress of securing $800,000 of capital. They are more than three-fourths to their goal which is projected to inc [...]

Entrepreneur3 Crowdfunding Tips Every Company Forgets From a Brand That Raised $800000 and Got AcquiredEntrepreneurCrowdfunding takes a lot of planning, whether you're gearing up for a launch, a ship date or thinking about the next source of funding you'll pursue. But it [...]

Entrepreneur12 Key Strategies to a Successful Crowdfunding CampaignEntrepreneurI've Raised Close to $2 Million in Crowdfunding Campaigns -- Here Are My Secrets · Next Article. 12 Key Strategies to a Successful Crowdfunding Campaign. Image credit: Shutterstock · Aj Agrawal • Contr [...]

CFB Finance

Marketwired

  • Crowdfunding
  • Crowdfund
  • Peer to Peer Lending
  • FinTech
  • Reg A+
  • Reg CF
  • Crowdfunding USA

Press Release

CrowdFund Beat Media

2018 Fintech World Conference & Workshop, Announcement:Game Changer” Fintech World Media, PR & Marketing Group Proudly Presents: lnkd.in/gqdCrTr

Live Crowdfunding .tv

What's Next Step in Regulation A+ JOBS ACTS Title IIII :L Interview : Steve Cinelli with Brian Korn Securities and Crowdfunding/Peer-to-Peer Lending Lawyer, Watch more video library | Conference | Interview | Campaign Showcase | Research | Education |