The advent of crowdfunding innovations for development

SciDevNet: “FundaGeek, TechMoola and RocketHub have more in common than just their curious names. These are all the monikers of crowdsourcing websites that are dedicated to raising money for science and technology projects. As the coffers that were traditionally used to fund research and development have been squeezed in recent years, several such sites have sprouted up.
In 2013, general crowdsourcing site Kickstarter saw a total of US$480 million pledged to its projects by three million backers. That’s up from US$320 million in 2012, US$99 million in 2011 and just US$28million in 2010. Kickstarter expects the figures to climb further this year, and not just for popular projects such as films and books.
Science and technology projects — particularly those involving simple designs — are starting to make waves on these sites. And new sites, such as those bizarrely named ones, are now catering specifically for scientific projects, widening the choice of platforms on offer and raising crowdsourcing’s profile among the global scientific community online.
All this means that crowdsourcing is fast becoming one of the most significant innovations in funding the development of technology that can aid poor communities….
A good example of how crowdsourcing can help the developing world is the GravityLight, a product launched on Indiegogo over a year ago that uses gravity to create light. Not only did UK design company Therefore massively exceed its initial funding target — ultimately raising $US400,000 instead of a planned US$55,000 — it amassed a global network of investors and distributors that has allowed the light to be trialled in 26 countries as of last December.
The light was developed in-house after Therefore was given a brief to produce a cheap solar-powered lamp by private clients. Although this project faltered, the team independently set out to produce a lamp to replace the ubiquitous and dangerous kerosene lamps widely used in remote areas in Africa. After several months of development, Therefore had designed a product that is powered by a rope with a heavy weight on its end being slowly drawn through the light’s gears (see video)…
Crowdfunding is not always related to a specific product. Earlier this year, Indiegogo hosted a project hoping to build a clean energy store in a Ugandan village. The idea is to create an ongoing supply chain for technologies such as cleaner-burning stoves, water filters and solar lights that will improve or save lives, according to ENVenture, the project’s creators. [1] The US$2,000 target was comfortably exceeded…”