A Tool to Turn Networks into Backers

Today I learned about KickStarter, a funding platform for inventors and explorers, including artists, filmmakers, and journalist. It reminded me of  the Web site SciFlies where researchers can reach out to the public and promote project ideas to raise funding for testing initial ideas. We recently wrote about it in Integrating “grassroot” funding opportunities with research networking.

The key idea of KickStarter is different, though. It is a tool for mobilizing the existing networks of the project creator pic blog.pptto generate support. Site users can explore projects by various categories, view information about the pledged score, about how much is already funded, and when the ‘pledge drive’ will end.

Project creators keep the full ownership and control. People who pledge receive access to all project updates, which the project creator posts on the project blog. He decides which of the posts are publicly viewable and which exclusive to the backers. In addition, backers can ask the project creator questions via the “Send Message” button on any project page. Funding is all or nothing. Money is collected only if a project reaches or exceeds its funding goal before time expires.

I’m wondering whether such a tool could be helpful to researchers who want to raise small funding. But even more, it intrigues me whether it could help them find collaborators. Finding collaborators can go both ways: it may involve looking for a researcher in a specific discipline, but it could also be part of a ‘project market place’ where researchers post projects for which they need a collaborator.