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What would UK science crowdfunding look like?

November 18, 2011

Over at Backreaction, Sabine Hossenfelder is arguing:

Crowdfunding science is a good idea to add additional support to underfunded missions or to enable small projects. It is not a good idea to draw upon the public opinion to fund research projects from scratch. It might appear as if public money is put to good use, but that use is likely to be very inefficient and misdirected and doesn’t actually solve any systemic problem. If you must, go occupy Wall Street, vote, and make sure your taxes are put to good use.

The comment thread has some insightful points, provoking PST to wonder what crowdfunding would look like for British science and engineering…

1. The British public would scoff at scientists asking them for cash when they did fairly OK out of the spending review (the supposed ring-fence of the science budget at £4.6 billion).

2. The British public would continue as one of the most generous in the world and science crowdfunding would take off.

3. The government would see it as a great failure of theirs that scientists are forced to beg publicly, and would increase the statutory science budget.

4. Industry would take the opportunity to fund more research, possibly capturing it for commercial purposes.

5. Science minister David Willetts would make a speech about how innovative scientists and researchers can be.

Which do you think is the most likely scenario? Add your thoughts as a comment below!

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One Comment leave one →
  1. November 19, 2011 4:54 pm

    Hm– I do think the point Sabine is making in the quote at top is worth thinking about. It calls into question this whole concept of a ‘Big Society’ for science– eg, can I individually assess the merit of some very technical proposal about bacterial metabolism, or am I more likely to give £1 to the project about zombies?

    (Sigh: http://www.livescience.com/17100-scifund-science-crowdsourcing-projects.html)

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