This commitment by George Mason University and Indiegogo implements a new strategy for funding university research and innovation. In these times of shrinking public resources, innovative solutions for bringing university potential to life are more important than ever before.
This commitment will democratize the process of innovation and entrepreneurship by allowing students and academics to crowdfund projects by seeking support directly from the public. By engaging the public in this important process, not only will untapped financial resources support new projects, but the public will become more engaged in academic research and student initiatives.
George Mason University is committing significant university resources to this commitment. Many departments from across the university will back this commitment, contributing valuable university resources and specific skills including Government and Community Relations, Alumni Affairs (to engage alum), Visual Identity (for branding and storytelling expertise), Student Affairs, Video Production Services (video production and editing expertise), George Mason Foundation (for fundraising expertise), and many more. George Mason University is also hiring a team of consultants to support the commitment and provide technical skills to participants on the crowdfunding campaigns. Indiegogo is providing the web based, co-branded, technical platform and will manage the financial technicalities. Additionally, they have hired a full-time education vertical lead to manage their university partnerships.
Between June and August of 2013, Mason and Indiegogo will pilot the commitment by hosting at least five crowdfunding campaigns representing a diversity of faculty, staff, student, and alumni initiatives with an emphasis in the arts, high-growth entrepreneurship and social entrepreneurship, technology, and research. These campaigns will raise at least $15,000 in the aggregate. With this successful pilot, the partnership will launch a full site in September 2013 open to all university stakeholders to create a crowdfunding campaign. In the fall semester of 2013, more than two dozen campaigns will seek to raise more than $100,000 via crowdfunding. The commitment will be assessed in January 2014 to raise the stakes for future campaign cycles, which follow the university's semester calendar. One year from the beginning of the commitment, the goal is for the gogoMason platform to host 100 campaigns and raise more than $10,000 per campaign, or $1,000,000 total in funding for innovative projects in higher education Learning from this campaign will be shared with CGI, Indiegogo, and other university crowdfunding initiatives, including UPenn and UC Berkley. Ultimately, the education goal is to take crowdfunding into curriculums for entrepreneurship classes at Mason and beyond.
University R&D is one of the biggest catalysts behind innovation and economic development in the United States. It is, however, tied directly to the ebb and flow of politics, government budgets, and grants.
Traditionally, faculty and staff write grants for research and development while students and alumni would have limited capacity to tap university resources for funding. Crowdfunding is a new model to democratize access to funding across all university stakeholders. For example, a senior undergraduate who has spent two years on her thesis will be able to raise capital through university and alumni networks to fund, and potentially commercialize, her research. Likewise crowdfunding allows faculty to use professional and university networks to fund their research projects that have gone unfunded. By engaging the public to engage and donate small increments of money, this commitment leverages completely new financial capital and builds new support for academic programs.
Crowdfunding is a proven model, Indiegogo is the world's largest crowdfunding platform, and this initiative will apply its success to new markets at George Mason University. The impact of this commitment will resound across the country as other universities have the chance to see and learn from George Mason's unprecedented initiative.
George Mason University and Indiegogo are seeking media, social media, and network support.
After a successful pilot at George Mason University, the commitment makers will share transferable learning with other universities nationwide. Indiegogo would also like to connect with university networks to scale crowdfunding to additional universities.