Technology Transfer Offices, Universities, faculty, students, entrepreneurs, business developers, and more, are constantly looking for new, and more efficient, methods to develop early stage technologies. As a result, new ways to collaborate and raise money have become a major focus for many institutions. On April 5, 2012, President Obama signed the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act, which sets out to encourage funding of small businesses and startup companies by alleviating several security regulations.
Additionally, the JOBS act authorizes and heavily promotes a new financial support mechanism known as Crowdfunding. Crowdfunding allows private and public companies to sell securities through open platforms and allows nonprofit organizations to microfinance loans. As a result, a number of new crowdfunding initiatives have emerged, around the world, to help raise capital for early stage ventures.
Crowdfunding is defined as an organized effort to manage pooled resources to support a project, company or activity. The three major crowdfunding sectors include charitable, project-based, and high growth startup. The success of crowdfunding is largely attributed to the promises it makes, and keeps, to investors, entrepreneurs, and government policies. First, it gives small investors the opportunity to participate in new ideas and enterprise creation. Next, it provides entrepreneurs with an alternate source of financing at a time of decreased risk-taking by traditional finance vehicles. Lastly, it presents a public-private solution for supplying greater liquidity in the US economy.
Recently, the Rochester community has explored this new funding medium through the help of Innovocracy. Innovocracy is a new academic crowdfunding platform that helps researchers and students raise donations to support new innovations. So far the platform has featured two University of Rochester technologies; the Autism project, which was highlighted in our last piece and recently featured on local NBC news, and MonoMano, a one-handed control system for one-armed bicycle riders.
MonoMano was created by five University of Rochester engineering students, Travis Block, Sarah Hutchinson, Dominic Marino, David Narrow, and Martin Szeto, and was built to enable stroke survivors, amputees and others with use of only one arm to cycle. In order to develop the product, the team created a detachable and adjustable one-handed control system that can be installed onto most cycles. In order to ensure the device was comfortable and easy to use for one-armed cyclers, the team deliberately designed all of the controls to mimic those currently used on most standard bicycles. The team is excited about the coverage the project has already received in the Democrat & Chronicle as well as Yahoo News. To learn more about this project and to help the team reach their funding goal please visit the MonoMano home page and get involved!