Tuhin Sinha, an associate director of strategic development at the University of California at San Francisco’s Office of Innovation, Technology and Alliances who noticed the growing trend of crowdfunding a few years ago, has helped UCSF form a partnership with Indiegogo, a leading crowdfunding platform.
Crowdfunding, which aims to raise small amounts of money from many individuals online, has exploded in recent years, fueled by an exceedingly online society.
“There are many projects that aren’t necessarily appropriate for a big NIH grant or anything that requires a lengthy application process,” Sinha said in a press release. “This gives our faculty more control over the process, but relies on them describing their funding needs to a peer network rather than a traditional granting committee,” the Indian American added.
Any UCSF faculty, staff or student can propose a project, and if their department approves, they may list it on Indiegogo. It is then the responsibility of that individual or group to ask friends, family and colleagues to donate. Donors who support the project can contribute any amount online, and if word spreads far enough, projects can raise thousands of dollars or more.
“UCSF is an innovator not only when it comes to science and research, but also when identifying novel ways to fund important projects," said Daniel Scarpelli, senior director of Annual and Special Giving at UCSF. “The challenge in crowdfunding is getting a wide enough reach.”
UCSF piloted its crowdfunding effort last December with four projects that spanned across the globe, among them “Rehabilitation Initiative India,” in which $5,330 was raised to develop a community-based rehabilitation program for a rural community in southern India.
Sinha admits that these early crowdfunding efforts at UCSF are a learning experience, and campus leaders will need to judge what projects are best suited for the “crowd.”
“UCSF excels at studying how things work,” Sinha said. “This will be one of those experiments.”