Conor Myhrvold

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A Kickstarter for Academic Research

The success of “crowd-funding” inspired one researcher to create a Kickstarter-like service for scientists.

  • July 11, 2012

Boston-based startup IAMScientist hopes to apply the crowd-funding approach pioneered by Kickstarter to research funding.

The company has already enjoyed modest success as a matchmaking service for companies and scientists. For a fee, it will tap its network of researchers—mainly in medicine and the life sciences—to find an available expert in a specific research area. But IAMScientist recently started allowing users to advertise projects for others to fund as well.

The approach is analogous to Kickstarter, a website that has raised almost $100 million for a wide range of entrepreneurial projects in 2011. But, of course, there’s a big difference: it’s unclear if IAMScientist’s audience of scientific researchers will want to contribute their own funds towards other researcher’s projects.

The website was created in 2008 by Borya Shakhnovich, at the time an assistant professor in Bioinformatics at Boston University. Shakhnovich hopes that reducing funding time from 18 months (under a typical NIH grant review process) to about 30 days, which is typical for crowd-sourced funding, will attract the interest of NGOs and larger organizations who could use the platform to have research proposals quickly and cheaply vetted.

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