science / Tech Culture

How to Fund A Scientist

nobel coin

I have a lot of friends in science. The re-emergence of citizen science being popular is happening in SF these days, but many of them are trying to figure out how to do science, not spend hours trying to write grants, and find funding still.  How do we fund “citizen” scientists?  Not everyone has access to know where these sort of investors “lurk”.

When we try to figure these things out we find ourselves in a position at loss, as the search leads us to there being no real contact list of science funders.  I’d like to know the answer to that, and want to add it to the things I wish to explore in conversations I plan to have at “tea with nora” interviews from this coming week.

Many of these guys and girls that I do know who are going into doing their own science work also have come into it via entrepreneurial programs. Many PHD drop outs end up doing their own thing in my circles. I wish I just knew how to connect them more to people wishing to fund big picture projects that were science-related. Some of these people are experts in more than one field, and follow the “anti-disciplinary” ways promoted by Joi Ito, the current director of MIT media lab.  This is a post to start a discourse about this matter and hopefully lead to me knowing more science funders in the future.

Cheers! Nora

2 thoughts on “How to Fund A Scientist

  1. I know absolutely nothing about how funding works in the US. In Europe, and particularly the UK however, it’s a slightly different story to the one I see described there.

    For ‘citizen scientists’ of the entrepreneurial persuasion there is alot of funding available from BIS (business, innovation and skills), you can read the policy paper here if you’re so inclined: . The upshot is that there is alot of unclaimed funding available through the innovation funds – that is effectively a tax-free fiscal injection into your research if you can show how it could be, or aid a business.

    If you view that as too much like selling out – there are of course the traditional research councils – the EPSRC is particularly keen on funding research concerning complex systems (see LSCITS: for example) and anything that has application to getting a foothold in the digital economy will stand a good chance of being funded (our esteemed Treasurer’s £600M pledge to science and technology in his statement last Autumn, if he doesn’t fuck it up). Developing anything for 4G phones will see you no short of investment either (

    Failing all of that – remember that even the most ardent scientists sometimes have to sell themselves to industrial application occasionally, especially when your credit rating has just been downgraded (thanks George), there are still options. The Royal Society ( ) will support many pure science applications – and themselves have a strong humanitarian ethical stance, being rather rich enough to support science for it’s own sake.

    • I think that science funding will get easier as more vc’s and the likes turn to crowdfunding as an option…

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