From Crowdfunding To Open Access, Startups Are Experimenting With Academic Research | TechCrunch
"The development of Massive Open Online Courses by startups like Udacity, Coursera, and others have forced many staid university administrators to consider how technology can transform higher education, particularly in the dissemination of educational content. And while the hype around these startups may have subsided, the change in mindset they have engendered means that their influence will continue well into the future. Yet, for all of the splashy accounts on the rise of these new teaching startups, one function of the university has consistently been missed – their research programs. Clark Kerr, the first chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley, once coined the term “multiversity” to describe the multiple parallel missions of universities, which includes both teaching and developing the frontiers of human knowledge. Research defines a university’s status, setting the prestige and influence of the institution far beyond what a lecture in a classroom can hope to accomplish. Research is also big business – at large universities like Stanford, sponsored research often exceeds revenues from tuition. Startups have begun a slow and quiet revolution that has the potential to offer us new ways to seek knowledge and build future innovation. This revolution has not been as dramatic as with education, in part because of the culture clash between startups and university researchers. Since university research is deeply connected with status, it tends to emphasize very specific arenas of competition like funding grants and publication records that can make it difficult for a nascent startup to find footing. While that conservatism may never disappear, the next generation of scholars coming through the ranks today are showing a propensity to try new approaches, including those offered by startups ... Thus, the idea of connecting researchers together is an old one, but a number of startups are starting to rebuild these models in a world of social networks. Among the most popular are Academia.edu and ResearchGate, two competing startups that are attempting to amass the world’s researchers onto one platform. Both sites subscribe to a similar social model – researchers post profiles of themselves and others can follow them and communicate through the tools on the site ... That’s where crowdfunding platforms come in. Experiment, formerly Microryza, is one option for both graduate students and other scholars to find funding for their research. The YC-backed startup has created a funding mechanism to connect researchers to potential funders. Based on data from the startup’s website, there are currently 103 research proposals that have been funded through the website, and the projects range from studying the patterns of crow movements to investigating the effects of music on improving memory. Another startup in the space, PetriDish.org, lists 32 completed project fundraises, with a similar range of research agendas ..."