Crowdfunding Gives Student Projects a Head Start

    New platform gives students and researchers a new way to raise funds

    By New Trail on May 12, 2014

    Kickstarter, a crowdfunding platform, was the first thing that came to mind when University of Alberta physics professor Ian Mann and his team of 60 student researchers started looking for ways to raise money to build the first made-in-Alberta satellite.

    But the team found a better fundraising solution right on campus.

    Through the university’s new crowdfunding platform, Mann and his team have raised more than $35,000 without the paperwork, fees and hassle associated with independent fundraising platforms like Kickstarter. The team is still working toward its final fundraising goal of $60,000 — the amount it will take to get the satellite off the ground.

    Their project, Lift Off Alberta!, is one of three that collectively raised more than $60,000 through the U of A’s crowdfunding campaign in partnership with USeed, a post-secondary fundraising platform.

    Another team raised more than $10,000 to make Pride Week 2014 activities more accessible, and a group of students who are expanding the Play Around the World youth recreation project into Canada’s North raised more than $15,000. A total of 697 donors supported the three pilot projects.

    The University of Alberta is the first Canadian university to partner with USeed to crowdsource funds for students and researchers across campus.

    “Crowdfunding enhances the U of A’s traditional and existing sources of philanthropy, providing an additional, fun way to help student initiatives and campus projects achieve excellence,” said O’Neil Outar, vice-president of advancement. “I encourage anyone on campus looking for new ways to support their project or research to apply and see what might be possible through this mechanism.”

    Crowdfunding projects run for 30 days, must be related to a university purpose and must include student involvement. The most successful campaigns typically aim to raise about $5,000.