The #SciFund Challenge: A Call to (virtual) Arms

Jarrett Byrnes

The current rate of funding for science proposals in the U.S. is ~20%. The current rate for funding statues of RoboCop in Detroit is 135% – to the tune of $67,436.

All of the traditional sources of cash for science – the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, NASA, private foundations – are getting harder and harder to access. And the situation is probably only going to get worse. So what is a scientist to do? How can our funding be as secure as RoboCop’s?

Scientist at work
Scientist at work

We’d like to propose an experiment to fund our science in an entirely new way – the #SciFund Challenge.

Over the past few years, a brand new way to raise money over the internet has arisen, a way called crowdfunding. Think of it as the next step of the fundraising model that charities have used for ages. Countless charities – like the American Red Cross, the World Wildlife Fund, and so on – collect lots of small donations from regular people that they pool together to do big things. Crowdfunding takes this idea, gives it a social media twist, and brings it to everyone, not just charities. Crowdfunding websites like Kickstarter, RocketHub, and IndieGoGo (to name just a few) provide a place where everyone can conduct their own private campaigns. These websites provide a platform, online tools, and the ability to process credit card payments, but these private campaigns are entirely driven by the individuals behind them.

It’s not magic money. You have to put in the work to convince the masses that *YOUR PROJECT* is worth their dollars. Can this work?

It worked for RoboCop. It’s worked for aspiring filmmakers. It’s worked for African aid efforts.

Crowdfunding in action

But can it work for Science?

That’s where you come in. We want you involved in a new grand experiment in Science funding – the #SciFund Challenge.

We need you. Over the next few weeks we’ll be outlining the details, and even post a sign-up (which is here). For now, we need you to start to think about something that you think, if you went out to Los Internetz, hat in hand, people would get excited. People would get excited, and give you some money. We need you to think about, is crowdfunding science even a good idea?

So get ready, and let’s start to think about the Next Generation of funding for Science.

More soon…