How Can My Lab Make More Money?

March 4, 2014 | Posted by Brianne Villano in Outsourcing Trends |

Some of the Science Exchange team recently went to AAAS – the American Association for the Advancement of Science. While there, I went to several sessions that talked about the composition of research teams and the dedication they have to have applying for grant after grant, and often times not hearing back for months at a time, only to then see those months of hopes dashed when they are denied funding.

The NIH reports that the average research grant success rate for fiscal year 2012 was 18%.  Read the rest of this entry »

Should Applied Funding Go To Academia Or Startups?

July 12, 2012 | Posted by Elizabeth in Innovation Highlight |

There has recently been a subtle, but important, shift in the focus of government support for scientific research.

With NIH funding capped at 2012 fiscal levels, government programs have shifted support to applied & translational research, rather than traditional R&D platforms. The new “Big Data R&D Initiative”, for instance, will put $200 million into commitments for applied tools and techniques in biomedical research.

And while it’s certainly exciting to see federal funds go towards translational research, it is somewhat worrying to see how these funds are to be distributed. The NIH typically awards grants to academic groups with little commercial experience, and the new applied research funds are no different. The NHGRI, for instance, has awarded $20 million in grants to support the development of NGS data analysis software; but all grant recipients are academic labs with not a single startup or commercial partner.

As an entrepreneur myself, this brings up a series of concerns:

  • Quality: Will the resulting products of these grants be useful? In my experience, startups are simply more efficient at translating ‘needs’ to products. Because they operate on commercial incentives, startups are better at iterating to ensure their software development efforts fit their customer’s needs. In comparison, academic labs seem divorced from the end user, and have less willingness and/or incentive to engage in lean customer development processes. Read the rest of this entry »

Crowdfunding as the future of science funding?

May 27, 2012 | Posted by Anthony in Outsourcing Trends |

Academic labs face increasingly tight budgets within a down economy.  Myself being an open notebook scientist at the University of New Mexico, funding has been particularly difficult to come by, without much support from larger grants or agencies.

Searching for alternatives, I have increasingly turned to online platforms for raising support and engagement for my research instead. Crowdfunding platforms have been of particular help, providing a medium to raise financing for scientific projects in a manner similar to Kickstarter. RocketHub’s #SciFundChallenge was the first crowdfunding initiative to support science projects, with newer science platforms like Petridish.org emerging as well.

And while crowdfunding may not be the be-all and end-all for scientific funding, I have found it to carry some extremely valuable facets over traditional funding.

For one, it provides students in the lab a chance to fund their own research. As it’s generally said that there are two big rewards in science, namely positive results and money, crowdfunding provides a medium to achieve both simultaneously. You get to see your scientific influence in real-time through small (or large) donations from the public, and witness money be contributed to something that you have created in a meaningful way.

Read the rest of this entry »

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