Suppose you wanted to build an electrophysiology rig for less than $100 in eventual product cost? Suppose that something you thought was at least partially a goof really resonated with people, especially people in science education?
Further suppose that you are outside of the traditional science funding path for some reason. Perhaps you are not affiliated with any university. Perhaps you are affiliated but are not in a job category that permits you to submit proposals to the NSF or NIH?
Wouldn't it be great if there was a place for you to get a pilot grant to establish credibility and feasibility of your idea?
The folks at Fund Science are in the absolute infancy of developing a mechanism:
To enable the public to fund pilot research projects. Accomplishing this goal has immense benefits. First we're providing research funds to a whole new generation of researchers that are our future. Secondly we're walking the public through the scientific process, from grant writing to funding, all the way to the results. Finally we are creating an ecosystem for scientists to collaborate with each other as well as the public on shaping future research projects.
* Enabling public philanthropy through tactical funding of small pilot research projects up to $50,000.
* Educating and walking the public through the research process by providing direct interaction between researchers and their donors.
* Applying open source methodology to aid program participants in the research process through simple collaboration tools.
You can read more about the people involved with Fund Science here.
This is a very new effort and I imagine there are many questions for the founders to answer, from the theoretical to the practical. What questions would you ask of them? What pitfalls do you see? How would you like such a funding mechanism to work? Is the target of $50,000 per award an amount that would be useful within your kind of science?
Update: I forgot to point to writedit's post on this from some time ago.