Few startups are lucky enough to win backing from big investment firms, so innovators have drawn on the power of social media. Kickstarter allows people with an idea to appeal directly to potential financial backers. By collecting hundreds of small donations, new companies can get off the ground.
Now a new site has adopted crowdsourcing for research projects. On Petridish.org investigators can explain the benefits of their projects and seek funding. So far the projects seem to involve wildlife conservation, which may make for more visually appealing descriptions. But any scientist can take a turn explaining the benefits of their research.
Online donations in amounts as small as $20 may not fully replace NIH funding, but it can support small projects and potentially demonstrate to larger funders that people see value in your projects.