crowdfunding websites

Though science-specific crowdfunding websites have been around for nearly five years, this type of funding is still in its early stage. We’ll be covering this method of funding for the first time in Lab Manager starting with our upcoming September issue, finishing with Part 2 in October. We chatted with five researchers and the founder of one scientific startup about why they chose to crowdfund, as well as the benefits, challenges, and what they learned along the way. In addition, the owners of science-based crowdfunding sites Experiment.com and Crowd.Science will provide their take on where crowdfunding in science is going, what they’re focusing on, and how the current research funding environment in the US and the UK may affect crowdfunding in science. 

You can find the researchers’ projects here (in no particular order): 

Also, a little something we didn’t have space for in print—a quick comparison of the science-specific crowdfunding sites we looked at, based on information from their websites and founders: 

Crowd.Science 

Funding Model: Offer both flexible and all-or-nothing options 

Pricing: Free to post a project. Crowd.Science takes a 5% commission on fully funded projects and another 3% goes to the payment gateway they use. 

Review process: Only accepts high quality projects from reputable institutions or people. 

Funding stats: As of July, have hosted 30 projects and had a total of £0.7 million pledged so far (around $925,000 US). 


Experiment.com

Funding Model: All or nothing (campaigner must reach their target, or all backers are refunded their money). 

Pricing: Free to start a project. If a project is fully funded, Experiment charges a 5% platform fee, plus payment processing fees (roughly 3-5%). 

Review process: All projects are rigorously reviewed, provided feedback, and scientifically approved by the Experiment.com team. 

Funding stats: 723 funded projects with $7,486,898 pledged (as of Aug. 21). 


FutSci 

Funding Model: Offer both flexible and all-or-nothing options 

Pricing: Free to post a project. Two different fee options offered for DIY or managed campaigns. Additional fees include those levied by Stripe (1.9 % + 20p/transaction). 

Review process: Researchers undergo a background check and screening to verify their identity before the project is accepted. All projects are vetted by a Scientific Advisory Committee to assess feasibility of the project, scientific plausibility, and accurate budget calculations. 

Funding stats: N/A 


While mainstream crowdfunding platform Kickstarter does not have a science category, it does have a number of science-related projects, focused mostly on scientific instruments rather than research. According to a Kickstarter representative, the site has had 11,643 funded projects in the Design & Technology categories over the past five years, where most science related projects fit. 

Join us in September as we provide a general intro to crowdfunding, why researchers are choosing it, some of the benefits of crowdfunding, and where science-specific sites are at roughly five years after they were first launched. In October, we’ll share the advice of our researchers on how to run a successful campaign and discuss the challenges they faced. Hopefully, these articles will help you decide if crowdfunding is the right fit for your research project.