When it comes to funding for scientific research, it’s a tricky business. Most grants are awarded by the government and have little to no input from the taxpayers. A new startup wants to change that. It’s called Petridish and it puts the power in your hands to pick which scientific studies should be funded. It’s like the crowdfunding site Kickstarter but with a scientific twist.
Matt Salzberg, founder of Petridish and a former venture capitalist, launched the site last week and they’ve already successfully funded numerous scientific projects. The site has a familiar layout, much like Kickstarter, and has a truly benevolent goal: to fund amazing scientific discovery. It’s an aspirational goal for sure but something I can truly get behind. In terms of making money itself, Petridish will make money the same way Kickstarter does, by taking a 5% transaction fee off the top of donations.
It begs the question: could Petridish be the beginning of a new era of public funding for research? What if the government did away with a portion of it’s annual grants and instead gave that money to organizations like Petridish? Users could then pick where to send that money. Relying on the crowd when it comes to funding research that benefits that same crowd is a good thing. Only time will tell if Petridish has what it takes to start generating some real growth. For now, it’s a great tool for incubation. Okay, no more puns, time to go fund some kick-butt scientific research.
Below are a few example videos from researchers looking for funding via Petridish. While they may not all be as sexy as a new iPad case on Kickstarter, much of this research is truly fascinating and would be great to share in your classroom. Imagine asking your students which project(s) they would fund? You might be surprised!
Want to submit a project to Petridish? Click here.
Example #1: Tracing the Route of the Green Sea Turtle in Peru
Example #2: New species of ants in Madagascar
Example #3: Unraveling the mystery of gelada monkey melodies