Crowdfunding Scientific Research

36 Pages Posted: 12 Mar 2018

See all articles by Henry Sauermann

Henry Sauermann

ESMT European School of Management and Technology

Chiara Franzoni

Politecnico di Milano - DIG

Kourosh Shafi

California State University, East Bay

Date Written: March 2018


Crowdfunding may provide much-needed financial resources, yet there is little systematic evidence on the potential of crowdfunding for scientific research. We first briefly review prior research on crowdfunding and give an overview of dedicated platforms for crowdfunding research. We then analyze data from over 700 campaigns on the largest dedicated platform, Our descriptive analysis provides insights regarding the creators seeking funding, the projects they are seeking funding for, and the campaigns themselves. We then examine how these characteristics relate to fundraising success. The findings highlight important differences between crowdfunding and traditional funding mechanisms for research, including high use by students and other junior investigators but also relatively small project size. Junior investigators are more likely to succeed than senior scientists, and women have higher success rates than men. Conventional signals of quality - including scientists' prior publications - have no relationship with funding success, suggesting that the crowd applies different decision criteria than traditional funding agencies. Our results highlight significant opportunities for crowdfunding in the context of science while also pointing towards unique challenges. We relate our findings to research on the economics of science and on crowdfunding, and we discuss connections with other emerging mechanisms to involve the public in scientific research.

Suggested Citation

Sauermann, Henry and Franzoni, Chiara and Shafi, Kourosh, Crowdfunding Scientific Research (March 2018). NBER Working Paper No. w24402, Available at SSRN:

Henry Sauermann (Contact Author)

ESMT European School of Management and Technology ( email )

Schlossplatz 1
10117 Berlin

Chiara Franzoni

Politecnico di Milano - DIG ( email )

Piazza Leonardo da Vinci
Milan, Milano 20100

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Kourosh Shafi

California State University, East Bay ( email )

25800 Carlos Bee Boulevard
Hayward, CA California 94542
United States

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