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The challenge of academist , first academic crowdfunding platform in Japan

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The challenge of academist , first academic crowdfunding platform in Japan

What's this Challenge about?

We have started this challenge from Oct 24. 2014 to earn operation fund for our academic crowdfunding platform, “academist”.

“How many researchers are there in Japan?”
“What kind of researches are going on in universities or research institutes?”

Unfortunately, not a lot of people can answer to those questions in these days. People do not get to know about latest researches until they are given novel prizes, or unless focused by media drastically. However, there are millions of researchers worldwide and they are just now trying to clarify the origin of our life, the mechanism of universe, and how to cure intractable diseases.

In using our “academist" platform, researchers get to present the aim of their research, describe the value as well as their passion, with their very own words. Then via the internet, anyone who found interest in certain research get to invest money directly to that research they want to support. With this direct-connection between researches and the society, we could accelerate the growth of exciting technologies, in a big team!


Current Situation

In order to receive research funds, there are so much paperworks that researchers have to turn in to government and the university. Once the research is done after certain period time, another bunch of paperworks to submit, again and again.



We agree that this current system is important to keep the researches reliable, since there are specialists who judge the reliability of each researches.


The Problem

However, in a meanwhile, this system create some problems.

1. People in the society, which are the ones who are paying for those researches via tax, never get to know “who is doing what at where”, until the world-changing results come out of news.

2. Researches which is not directly lead to helping our lives, such as “just-interesting” basic researches, are regarded less important and therefore not funded enough.


Solution

We believe that the introduction of crowdfunding to the research funding system could be the solution to the above problems. Offering a platform connecting researchers and the society directly, could solve both two problems at once.



Using the “academist” platform, researchers themselves explain the interests of their exploring topics, and set some return items related to their research (e.g. research summary report, original items, etc.). Then, anyone who wants to support put their money to researchers and get the return.



For example, our first project ‘The taxonomical research of basket star’ offered original items like basket star polo shirts ($50) and dried basket star samples ($300). Since non-specialists rarely get a opportunity to get items like that, it was enjoyed by many people. (We recognized via twitter comments!!)


World Academic Crowdfunding

There are many academic crowdfunding platforms all over the world. Among them, ‘Experiment’ located in USA https://experiment.com/ and 'Science Starter’ located in Germany https://www.sciencestarter.de/home.html are well developed platforms.
One of the interesting project is ‘Do coal and diesel trains make for unhealthy air’ performed in Experiment. Dr. Dan Jaffe, who belonged to Washington University, receives 20,000 dollars from residents living near a railroad. The results of this research have been published in an academic journal and called ‘World-first crowdfunding paper’.

https://experiment.com/projects/do-coal-and-diesel-trains-make-for-unhealthy-air?s=discover

It is much difficult to realise above situation in Japan unless the new research funded system is established. We believe that the combination of closed research funded system and open one such as “academist” platform develop academic researches in the future.