Why crowfunding...?

Lab Note #3
May 05, 2014
Greetings everyone! 

We are 1/3 funded. Woohoo! Thank you to ALL of our supporters. You are making this research happen! We are so excited, and both Kelly and I are thrilled to be sharing this experience with you. We will be even more excited when we have actual results to share, as well!

A few people have asked about why we are doing crowdfunding, and I decided to write a blog post on the answer. It is included below, and you can also find it on our website, as well as shared on our Facebook page. I love questions and comments, so feel free to share them!

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Today our campaign to support noninvasive blood glucose testing was posted on CrowdSifter. This site sources top crowdfunding campaigns from around the web and shares them all on a single page. "Upvoting" for the campaign will promote its reach and supports the campaign through CrowdSifter sharing it with their subscribers through Twitter and email.

This is great news, yet many of you may be wondering, why are you doing a crowdfunding campaign for a small company doing research? Why not investors? Other sources? 

Well, that is a great question.  The answer lies in several parts:

First, research as early-stage as this is typically supported by government grants. Most commonly, through STTR or SBIR grants, which support early stage technology transfer out of government or academic institutions by partnering with a small company to develop and begin the feat of commercializing these technologies.  Unfortunately, these grants for science have been cut dramatically in the national budget, and primary research across all institutions is affected. Thus, even though we have applied more these grants, less are being awarded at smaller amounts.

Second, these SBIR/STTR funds support early stage research, and allow a venture to generate relevant data. This generation of initial, proof of concept data is critical to seeking more funding through additional government and foundation grants. Furthermore, they allow a small company to prove validation of its technology, and provide an opportunity to then go out and seek different types of funding. However, because less SBIR/STTR grants are be awarded, and often at smaller amounts, we cannot count on this type of funding to support our initial proof of concept work. 

We need initial data to use for future grant applications, and to create a stronger grant application package.  We have applied for an NIH SBIR grant in March 2014, and are working on a second one to be submitted next month. These are extremely competitive, and, if accepted, would not start funding until December 2014 at the earliest.  As a young, motivated team, we are hoping the grants are awarded, but we cannot say for sure that they will be. Thus, successfully funding our campaign will allow us to perform critical research on noninvasive sensing with our technology. 

Third, many companies seek to bring on investors way to early in the game. In science-based small companies, this is especially detrimental as it can lead to changing the company mission from developing a potentially life-saving drug or device into one of generating the quickest, and highest return. Often, scientific research is compromised to get the data investors want to see, without remaining objective to the original goal at hand. Scaling up too quickly to generate a ROI that may be 5-7 years away can be hurtful rather than beneficial, and lead to another failed start-up.  

Our goal is develop a technology to sense blood glucose in a completely needle-free, noninvasive manner. Medical devices take years to develop, yet many begin as a small idea to use a technology to advance current treatments for a disease. We are doing this campaign to support primary research, as one finds throughout academia, research institutions, and small companies. It is where true innovation grows and leads to technological advances. Thanks to Experiment.com, we have the opportunity to support our research through generous pledges by our supporters. 

Please feel free to email me or comment with thoughts and questions. I would be happy to answer them!

-Laura
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