Blessed by Gates, crowdfunding site funnels cash for high-risk R&D

A new crowdfunding platform site called Microryza has started funneling cash to dozens of high-risk scientific research programs, including a number of drug development efforts that would otherwise never see the light of day.

Microryza's co-founder, Cindy Wu, came up with the idea of a Kickstarter-type site for science projects after finding out she had no hope of getting a grant from the NIH to support her work on an anthrax treatment. She ended up getting the money after pitching it at a lab meeting but wanted to do something for the many other drug researchers in the same beached boat.

"I was so lucky," Wu told TechCrunch last month. "But I realized there are so many other undergraduates, graduate students and faculty members that would never be able to get funding," she said. "I talked to 100 different scientists and found that all of them had high-risk ideas, but they never wrote proposals because they didn't think it would go through."

It works a lot like the already popular Kickstarter. Projects can ask for a sum of cash and get all or nothing, depending on their success at hitting the goal. But unlike Kickstarter, each proposal is carefully vetted. Wu says most of the researchers who pitch on Microryza either have advanced degrees or are close to getting one. (Translation: They're sticking with risky but serious science, so no fringe quests, please.)

Wu's little venture has already received the blessing of the Pope of High Tech.

"This solution helps close the gap for potential and promising, but unfunded projects," Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates said about Microryza, according to VentureBeat.   

- here's the story from VentureBeat
- here's the report from TechCrunch

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