The SciFlies Network ™, a new, citizen-based innovative framework for the public funding for scientific research, is explained in an article published in the current issue of TECHNOLOGY & INNOVATION, Proceedings of the National Academy of Inventors ™, http://www.
The SciFlies Network ™ makes it possible for citizen donors to select a scientist and a research project and make a direct donation to that scientist's work. Donors will likely fund projects that have special meaning for them, whether it is cancer research, environmental research, or research on a promising engineering technology.
"The SciFlies Network provides a new funding source for research and innovation and, in doing so, offers citizens interested in advancing science and technology a personal and tangible way to do so," said David Fries, president of the nonprofit SciFlies Network ™ initiative and a member of the National Academy of Inventors (www.academyofinventors.org) . "When citizen microdonors feel they can directly accelerate science, technology, discovery and innovation, there is a sense of ownership that may not come with the traditional public science funding mechanisms that have been around for a long time."
According to science entrepreneur Fries, who holds 28 patents, the elements of the SciFlies Network ™ include: enabling a variety of online tools to get scientists and members of the public talking to each other; a way to give a public voice that can influence not only innovation but also policy; a vehicle through which people can directly accelerate science, technology research and innovation and; a way to promote science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines to students.
"We have mapped out a process for this to happen," explains Fries. "The university or research center becomes a SciFlies Network member and we develop a researcher and project profile. Each project is given an account and when contributions reach the project's total funding requirement, which can range from $5000 to $100,000, the money is moved to the institution as a gift."
An on-line system will continue the relationship between scientists and "microphilanthropists." A key element, adds Fries, is that potential microdonors will learn about the projects from the SciFlies Network ™ website where projects will be explained in language laypersons can understand. The candidate projects are small and specific enough so that donors know when the project fundraising goal has been achieved and, at the end of the project term, will receive a full report on research outcomes.
According to Dr. Paul Sanberg, editor-in-chief of Technology & Innovation, the SciFlies Network is an idea whose time has come.
"As government funding for research has been reduced over recent years, the SciFlies Network promises not only to help researchers carry on their work, but also puts the "public" back into public funding," said Dr. Sanberg.
Researchers are already joining the SciFlies Network ™ in what Fries calls a cyber "alliance model" where various institutions and researchers spanning wide ranging science and technology endeavors can create a broad landscape for potential microdonors.
"The alliance model, within a cyber infrastructure, will help foster public involvement and also provide a feedback to various participants from the general public, to societies, agencies and the science policy makers in the government," concluded Fries, who is still an active researcher and head of the Ecosystems Technology Group at the USF College of Marine Science and also the founder of two companies, Intelligent Micropatterning and Bioplex Technologies.
The National Academy of Inventors ™ recognizes and encourages inventors who have a patent issued from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office,, enhances the visibility of university technology and academic innovation, encourages the disclosure of intellectual property, educates and mentors innovative students, and encourages the translation of the inventions of its members to benefit society.
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