Crowdfunding Science a Worthy Pursuit
Given the exuberant novelty in which the subject is still so often shrouded, crowdfunding most often makes headlines when it’s associated with celebrity or some name-brand initiative. Less sexy, and therefore more likely to be overlooked by news hounds, are those campaigns aimed at raising funds for more humanitarian purposes — like science.
Still, a great number of crusades percolate successfully in pursuit of crowdfunded capital to underwrite projects aimed at bettering the world through scientific discovery and development. And we’re all the luckier for it.
Take, for example, a current campaign undertaken by a University of British Columbia astronomer who’s looking to perpetuate the lifetime of a Canadian space telescope after the Canadian Space Agency cut its funding earlier this month, declaring that it had “exceeded its objectives.”
In another interstellar venture, former NASA employees launched a campaign this spring to raise $125,000 for reviving a satellite from the 1970s that was retired from use in the 1990s and has been floating through space ever since.
In 2013, a Silicon Valley startup crowdfunded $117,000 to launch a satellite for sending photos of the Earth back home using a cellphone app.
Other science-powered crowdfunding projects include:
- a program organized by a team of scientists and engineers in pursuit of $250,000 to fund a robot prototype, SpoRobot, designed to isolate mosquitos’ salivary glands in a bid to produce the first-ever malaria vaccine;
- Google Glass’s mini keyboard add-on, which came to be through the successful crowdfunding of some $87,000;
- and a hopeful team of American grad students seeking funding for a digital dog feeder they’ve developed that uses algorithms to sharpen dogs’ intelligence.
For its part, FundRazr has a number of on-the-go science-facing campaigns, including one seeking funding for a California junior high eager to rent experimental learning time with a satellite; another for a Canadian student studying horses in the UK; and American Gut, the world’s largest open-source science project aimed at understanding the microbial diversity of the human gut.
Raise money to support an interesting science project.