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This article was published on April 12, 2012

    Meet Microryza: Crowd funding for scientific research

    Meet Microryza: Crowd funding for scientific research
    Alex Wilhelm
    Story by

    Alex Wilhelm

    Alex Wilhelm is a San Francisco-based writer. You can find Alex on Twitter, and on Facebook. You can reach Alex via email at [email protected] Alex Wilhelm is a San Francisco-based writer. You can find Alex on Twitter, and on Facebook. You can reach Alex via email at [email protected]

    This is awesome. Launching today is Microryza, a Seattle-based firm that is taking the popular crowd-based fundraising model and is applying it to a critical component of the modern economy: scientific research.

    Yes, you just might be able to help fund your own Sheldon Cooper now. The platform allows for direct donation to researchers that are working on the things that you care about, allowing you to put your money where your nerdy hunches and passions are. I would fund people looking to figure out if there was ever life on Mars. That’s just me.

    Now, what does this look like in practice? I’m glad you asked. Peep the screenshot that the team sent over:

    Of course, the obvious comparison is Kickstarter, and that’s a relatively decent perspective. However, Kickstarter has quickly found its own niche: the funding of niches. Scientific research is slightly less sexy, which means it might help to have its own dedicated portal and audience. After all, understanding whether a biology project is worth funding requires some knowledge; funding a watch does not.

    On the Microryza site, featured projects include: Evolution and diversity of the butterfly bushes; How do spammers harvest your e-mail address?; and Create a New Social Tool for Global Health. All worthy things to work on, in my view, and I don’t even know what a butterfly bush is. The team behind the site claims to be comprised of “young researchers and scientists trying to bootstrap a new way to do research.” Good on them for finding, and building a way to move their work forward.

    Scientific research is woefully underfunded, always under attack, and fantastically important. I hope that the Microryza team manages to ease those pressures at least a little bit. If they do, we’ll all profit. This is one time when we are, ahem, doing it for science.

    Microryza

    Oh, and I already Google the term ‘microryza,’ and so far as I can tell, it’s not a cool flagellum, or anything at all.