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Crowdfunding implications for early stage university technology and start-ups

In its most recent Mind the Gap landscape report, innovosource identified crowdfunding as an emerging investment vehicle that may be better positioned to support the capital requirements of translational research, proof of concept projects, and early-stage start-ups than more traditional capital sources, like venture capital and angel investment. This funding approach taps into the masses for smaller, more manageable investments versus larger investments from a few. Crowdfunding, if properly executed, could provide new avenues for gap funding of promising university technologies and start-ups; however, many questions (and curiously) still remain surrounding its adoption and useful implementation.

“Separating fad from utility is key.”, says Jacob Johnson, founder of innovosource and author of Mind the Gap, “Crowdfunding is a very cool concept, and people should be excited about its possibilities; but, it’s also unproven in regards to developmentally-rigorous technologies, still under federal policy review, and hazy in ownership rights and ROI. The world has seen that you can crowdfund a web service and an art studio, but can you crowdfund biotech?”.

To answer that question and move the conversation forward, innovosource is starting with quality, informed insights by partnering with The Soho Loft’s David Drake, an expert on the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act, and its crowdfunding implications.

“In addition to the work I have done with policymakers and the JOBS Act in the US. I have recently traveled globally— France, Italy, Holland, Belgium, Russia and Moldova— to discuss this financial approach to early stage capital. I am excited to work with innovosource to share information on crowdfunding with the university community. There is a lot to discuss and figure out, but I applaud innovosource, and the Mind the Gap initiative, for beginning the conversation”, says Drake.

Johnson adds, “David Drake, has literally traveled around the world and back over the past year, and worked closely with members of Congress to craft this legislation.  He has earned his position as a global expert on crowdfunding policy, and we are excited to share his observations with our university partners and stakeholders”.

To kick off the partnership, innovosource will host David Drake for a webinar on January 16th @12PM US Eastern. The Soho Loft will also push relative articles on crowdfunding through the website and weekly news digest.

Moving forward, innovosource will use its annual Mind the Gap reporting process in December and January to collect and share insights on university perspectives towards crowdfunding, and any existing experiences.

“We will start with solid information, and then look to identifying and developing applications that can work in concert with other gap funding mechanisms and  that are optimized for the university innovation environment and existing commercialization mechanisms.” ,says Johnson, “We are here to support the realization of breakthrough technologies and start-ups from the university environment. If crowdfunding has a place in this equation, we want to play our part”.


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