In today’s world, raising capital for early stage technologies has become a grueling process, not only has government funding been cut, but companies and investors, too, have stopped taking big risks on new projects. This new way of doing business has forced researchers and Universities around the country to find innovative ways to bring in the capital needed to take their projects to the next level.
The University of Rochester, in an effort to help its researchers hunt down early stage, proof-of-concept, capital, decided to reach out and explore alternative investment avenues. So, when the University was first contacted by Mike Totterman, chairman of Innovocracy, they were thrilled to hear of his new crowdfunding platform focused on promoting and raising funds for early-stage academic research.
Once the platform was completed, two University of Rochester researches decided to give the new funding initiative a try. Dr. Daniel Mruzek, a psychologist and autism expert, and Dr. Stephen McAleavey, a biomedical engineer, had developed a novel toilet-training procedure using an electronic moisture pager and corresponding curriculum for children with autism.
The team had successfully tested the device in children with other developmental disabilities but needed additional funding to test the device in children with autism. Fortunately, Innovocracy provided the team with a unique platform that allowed them to reach out to the community and request support to raise the additional capital needed to complete their project. In less than two weeks the team was able to raise 50% of the funds required for the trial, by the end of month the team had exceeded its funding goal and were able to raise over $9,000 to carry out the additional testing on the device.
Next, a group of University of Rochester undergraduate biomedical engineering students decided to give the platform a try. The team had developed a unique handlebar device, the MonoMano, in their senior design course that allows physically handicapped individuals to effortlessly ride a bicycle. In order to develop and distribute the device on a large scale the team needed to raise additional capital to cover manufacturing costs, so they decided to post their project on the Innovocracy platform in hopes they’d garner enough financial support to continue production. By the end of the month, the students rose close to $6,000, which they ultimately used to manufacture additional handle bar units that were then sent to SportsNet and the Wounded Warriors Project for distribution.
Right now, two new University of Rochester projects are up on the Innovocracy platform and open for donation. The first technology, entitled “MindWriter”, is a software module that works in concert with a word-processing program to make the writing process productive and rewarding. The module was developed by Dr. Deborah Rossen, Associate Professor and Director of the College Writing Program, and is currently in its third iteration and is being tested by student writers at the University of Rochester. To help refine the program and begin user testing it at other institutions, Dr. Rossen is looking to raise $5,000, by May 1, 2013. To learn more about Dr.Rossen’s project and to donate to her program, please visit her Innovocracy page for additional information.
The second technology, entitled “Science Buddies Kits”, is made up of hands-on science activities and kits for elementary school-aged children that can easily be implemented in after-school programs. The kits were developed by Liam Casey, Research Assistant Professor of Environmental Medicine, and aim to employ an innovative and unique combination of characteristics that increase the likelihood of adoption by informal science educators. Liam is looking to raise $5,000, by May 1, 2013, to continue development and distribution of his kits to after school programs. To learn more about Liam’s kits and to donate to his project, please visit his Innovocracy page for additional information.
In just over a year, Innovocracy has been able to launch an incredibly successful crowdfunding initiative that has helped a number of University of Rochester researchers and students bring their technologies to market. Without Innovocracy, and others like it, some academic innovations may never get the chance to reach their true commercial potential.
Innovocracy’s goal is to provide a platform for innovators to solicit funds for academic projects. Contributions to Innovocracy projects are no strings attached donations and over 90% of the funds are distributed directly back to the innovators via their educational institutions. No equity changes hands and if interested, but not required, innovators may provide incentives to supporters (incentives may include updates, sample products and other thank you items).
Innovocracy is currently accepting new project proposals; so, if this is something you’d like to get involved in please Contact Innovocracy directly for more information. We strongly encourage any and all University of Rochester faculty and students looking to fund small projects, or a piece of a project, to take a quick minute to fill out Innovocracy’s short Questionnaire to find out if your project would be a good fit for the platform. If you have any additional questions please visit Innovocracy’s website, or give Innovocracy a call at 585-419-4955
Innovocracy is an independent organization, which is not owned or controlled by or otherwise affiliated with the University of Rochester.