Science Entrepreneurs : www.researchfunders.org

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Posted By : ScienceIndia Administrator

Akiraa PS is a Computer Scientist who was headed for a career researching Quantum Computing when he abruptly changed course. Now, instead of doing his own research, he has created a crowdfunding platform to help other scientists raise money to continue their work at a time when money for science is scarce.

Research Funders, (www.researchfunders.org) as the platform is called, connects scientists with donors who can potentially fund their research. The Hyderabad-based staff screens proposed projects for feasibility and novelty and runs checks on applicants to prevent fraud. Once approved, researchers post videos and a Q&A about their projects on the site. As with Kickstarter, visitors can back the project of their choice.

Changes in recent years at the country’s main research funding body, have caused turmoil in the research community and left many wondering how they can continue their research because funding are increasingly scarce. TBD reforms included changes to the peer review system and how funding is distributed, among other things.

India’s investment in basic science has been hovering around 0.9% of GDP for the last decade, compared with advanced countries that invest about 2% of their GDP .

“There is sort of a quiet crisis brewing. It really is a huge problem,” said Akiraa.

He was interested in the crowdfunding phenomenon, which has been successfully used around the world to raise money for scientific research and engage the general public in science — no small thing in an age of alternate facts and anti-science undercurrents.

In India, he found, there was no platform to help launch crowdfunding campaigns for scientific research, our govt and private systems only fund tenured professors, not curious minds to help scientific discoveries happen.

“A lot of countries have science crowdfunding platforms. India is a little behind in a lot of ways.”

For example, the Brain Project, campaign for a brain imaging study raised almost $80,000 toward a unique goal: the first functional magnetic resonance images of the brain on LSD. The Beckley Foundation, a UK-based charitable trust that promotes research and awareness of psychoactive drugs, will use the money to scan volunteers who've dropped acid. Such are the sacrifices people will make for science

Akiraa calls the project, which has raised more than $1 million and engaged many people in science, the “rockstar” of the science crowdfunding world. In addition to raising money for the research, it involves the public by allowing people to compare the brain images.

Research Funders launched its beta version in June,2017 While in beta its funded over 30 projects in diverse topics ranging from cancer research to marine biology, raising over $110,000 from over 3,000 people individual citizens. Research Funder takes a 5% fee on fully-funded projects.

Akiraa said crowdfunding can fill funding gaps and might support work that helps researchers later receive major funding. It also helps engage and educate the public about scientific research.

“I think things have evolved and now scientists don’t have the luxury of being able to work in the lab and not talk to the public. Science needs to reconnect with the public – that is almost more important in the long-term than helping to fill the funding gaps, which are absolutely urgent.”

Akiraa also said he thinks he can have a bigger impact by creating Research Funders than doing research. “I see this as a way I could have a big positive impact.”

As to whether a shift to crowdfunding means governments will be less inclined to support scientific research, Akiraa said the two are not comparable, but crowd funded projects can complement larger-scale research.

Asked whether crowd funding favours “cute and cuddly” research over other types of work, he said that has not been the case elsewhere, according to a study.

“It boils down to how the researchers told their story, how tangible their goal and how clearly they stated it. Injecting humour and personality helps. Any project can be made compelling or relatable, it is just a question of how you do that.”

Details: Website : www.researchfunders.org,

Founder: Akiraa PS, Contact  : +919948193564

 

Article by:

Saheba Sagu, 

Freelance Journalist

mail.sahebasagu@gmail.com

 

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