Episode 5: Crowdfunding science

Is it possible for the collective public to fund our research projects?

Given the low success rates in securing government funding for research, the BYI team decided to look into alternative funding sources and came across crowdfunding. The concept is simple: post up your project online via a crowdfunding platform and convince the public to fund your project with a small donation. These small donations can go a long way and with a few hundred backers, a substantial research project can be funded.

The concept of crowdfunding has been around for centuries but the term has only been popularised in the past decade with crowdfunding platforms such as Kickstarter, IndieGogo and GoFundMe enabling countless innovative products and projects to come to fruition. For example, Pebble, one of the first smart watches, raised over $10 million, far surpassing its intended goal of $100 000. Clearly, crowdfunding has enormous potential and it’s only recently that scientists have jumped on board this concept, turning to science-specific crowdfunding platforms such as Experiment and Thinkable.

For this episode of The Peer Review Podcast, PhD students and committee members of the Bosch Young Investigators, Daisy Shu, Fatima Wazin and Sharleen Menezes interviewed the researchers behind two successfully crowdfunded research projects: Samantha Goyen from the University of Technology, Sydney who studies the corals located in Sydney Harbour and Aaron Renberg, Alexander Hadd and Dany Lewin from the University of Michigan developing a thermal-regulated switch to kill bacteria.

We ask them about their research, why they decided to crowdfund their projects, the process behind setting up their project online, what problems they encountered along the way and their top tips for success. To put this to the test, Daisy decided to crowdfund her current PhD research project by putting all this advice to action. Check out her crowdfunding campaign here and show your support by backing her project: https://experiment.com/projects/how-do-cataracts-form

Listen to the podcast episode here:

We had a lot of fun putting this podcast episode together! Thanks to Dr Aaron Camp, the BYI coordinator, for helping us edit this episode. A huge thank you to Australian Biosearch, a leading supplier for life science research who sponsored this podcast episode. For listeners of this podcast, quote “The Peer Review” for a special offer on your purchases for a limited time.

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