Crowdfunding for science – an idea that’s catching on

Some researchers realise their projects by soliciting donations from private individuals. The platform wemakeit, launched in 2017, makes it possible.

In January 2017, the crowdfunding platform wemakeit launched its Science Booster channel to see if the public is interested in supporting academic researchers financially and learning more about their research in return.

After three years, there can be no doubt: the pioneering work of the former SNSF employees Mirko Bischofberger and Luc Henry has paid off. 7000 people have donated over a million Swiss francs in total to 75 science projects.

SNSF director Angelika Kalt believes the idea could catch on, offering researchers an alternative funding source for their projects. “We are seeing a completely different form of research funding. Of course, we also see the limits that researchers who crowdfund come up against in terms of financial resources. But supplementing existing funds through crowdfunding can be a good idea”. She is sure that platforms like Science Booster, which also facilitate broader dialogue between science and society, will continue to gain traction in the future.

For the founders of Science Booster, who have both been immersed in the world of research, science policy and science communication for several years, the idea behind crowdfunding research projects is already a clear winner. “We would never have expected so many different people to come with their ideas and cover such a wide range of scientific topics,” says Bischofberger. In his view, this shows that crowdfunding scientific projects is a great way of introducing research and innovation to a new and highly diverse audience.