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'Geeks' find alternative ways for funding

By Sarah McIlwain
On February 16, 2012

Students looking for funds for research projects may not need look much further than their own computer., a crowd funding website developed by company CEOs Cary Harwin and Daniel Gutierrez, allows project owners to post their research projects online so they can receive the funding they need.

Miami University senior Meaghan Harris recently posted her research project on Harris appealed for funding for a trip that she plans to take to Borneo in July to study the Sunda Clouded Leopard conservation. In only three days, she was able to raise $950 towards her goal of $3,500. Harris was noted for her project's success in Forbes magazine online.

"Fundageek is for independent projects and people who want to do their own thing," Harris said.

Harris received an Honors Program grant through Miami, but she needed more funding for her research project, so she turned to Fundageek. She said she highly recommends to anyone who wants to get funding for their own projects.

The process is simple: applicants can post their projects to the site and people who are interested can make small online contributions, known as micropledges, in return for rewards.

Fundageek takes 5 percent of any funds raised, but in return will seek out potential investors and promote the projects through social media, according to Harris.

For commercial project owners, if the funding goal is met within the constrained time limit, the project owner will receive all of the funding and in return, has to deliver all of the rewards. If the goal is not reached, no pledges are charged and no costs are incurred. At the end of the funding period for basic research projects, all of the funding is delivered to the project owner even if the goals are not met, according to Harris.

Crowd funding websites like are not the only option Miami students have to get research funding. Students can apply online through Miami to work with a mentor and receive funding for a research project. Although funding is not guaranteed to all applicants, students who get funding will receive personal attention and the opportunity to work with an experienced faculty or graduate advisor.

"Undergraduate research funding is easily accessible to all students. All they have to do is go to the Miami webpage and follow the directions to register online," said Martha Weber, Undergraduate Research Director for the Office for the Advancement of Research.

Many Miami students are open to the idea of receiving money through crowd funding instead of the more traditional funding through Miami.

"Sites like seem like a great way for people to get research money without government grants. Plus you can get as much money as you need. I think the funding you can receive through Miami is limited," first-year Alex Girman said.

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