The following is a short post about the role of crowdfunding in sustainable innovation.
A few weeks back, I shared a post about this Kickstarter project, about the world’s first mass produced edible cutlery on Linked-in. Seeing it reach its goal makes my heart overflow with joy. Imagine eating your favorite fast food dish, and then just eating the spoon?!
If successful, this product will eliminate the need for plastic utensils. Click it, you know you want to.
A new driver for green innovation
Research funding is a term generally covering any funding for scientific research and technology.
Currently research and development, or R&D, is primarily conducted by corporations. This accounts for two thirds of tech- research, with an additional 20% of research carried out by Universities, and 10% by government.
Don’t be fooled by the apparent insignificance of governmental funding. Remember, mankind went to space, and then to the moon. Both were government funded projects.
Historically, Denmark has been a country keen on making investments in green tech. Well, at least when the left wing parties have held office. This is of course the drawback of the democratic process. Certain technologies doesn’t always get funded when the political tides change. Denmark was leading in wave energy research back in the early millennia until a change in government meant, that all funding in that area got terminated.
But beside from that, the Danish government has a history of being a driver for green tech, with research for wind turbines and insulation being our most predominant success stories. In addition tax exemptions for certain green tech, and other instruments have been used to push forward the green agenda. (Note: this is a very simplified explanation. I recommend the book Ecological Modernity for those of you who wish to go deeper into the field).
Will crowdfunding replace governmental or University funded R & D?
No. It’s important to understand, that the amount of money needed to invent or rethink a technology, cannot be crow funded. That doesn’t mean government or academia is the only way to fund new technology. Just look at the history of Tesla Motors.
Governmental funding is also still a good indicator of what society as a whole wants to put effort into, and big governmental funding can generate momentum and credibility to emerging technologies. On the down side, if you’ve ever held a job on the public sector, you know the levels of bureaucracy that you need to work through, in order to get that funding – Which is totally fair, seeing as we’re talking about taxpayer money.
So what can crowdfunding do for tech?
Crowdfunding is an effective way for smaller innovation to find their way into existence. Got a great idea about how to make the world better? Put together a good video, do some good campaigning on social media, and there you go. Sky is the limit.
Crowdfunding is filling a void. You can get your word out to almost any corner of the world. If you receive a 1$ donation from 100.000 people, you have $100.000. In many cases this might be insanely easier than getting 1 donation of $100.000.
There are many examples of great ideas on kickstarter which went viral and therefore went far beyond their pledged goal. Going back to our cutlery snack, they pledged $20.000. Today, with 5 days of the campaign remaining, they have currently collected $234,597 Yep, more than 10 times the amount they asked for. Do you think there’s a good chance we’ll be eating out fast-food cutlery within the next 5-10 years? I do.
So finally I want to ask you this:
How are you going to change the world, and is crowd funding a tool you can use?
Comment below, or write me. I would love to know more about your project.