The first (to our knowledge) scientific crowdfunding project in Bulgaria
Posted: 20 August, 2015

The first (to our knowledge) scientific crowdfunding project in Bulgaria

A new wave of funding business endeavors has spread across the world in the last several years – crowdfunding. Crowdfunding has been very successful overall, especially for sound projects that promise a tangible return to the crowd investors, based on how much they are willing to spare. But what about funding scientific research and development – an area which does not guarantee any direct material benefit (like a new cool gadget), or any result, for that matter? Oddly enough, it seems that there are crowd funders out there, willing to fund basic and applied science as well (check out experiment.com or walacea.com for some cool projects)! Drying up government budgets are to blame for this gradual shift in science funding, according to some.

So what’s the situation in Bulgaria? Well, things do not look so bad, and we have some news to prove it! Recently, what we believe is the FIRST EVER science crowd funding campaign, was closed off successfully in early July. Spearheaded by our own Kamen Kozarev, Ph.D., an Indiegogo campaign raised nearly $3000 (110%) in one month to develop a new solar radio telescope, of the kind that does not exist in Bulgaria (that’s two firsts)! Most of the funders were either Bulgarian, or based in Bulgaria, which is very encouraging and may hint at the potential of such campaigns to fund future local research projects.

The SolAr Radio Telescope for Education and Research, or StARTER, will monitor the Solar activity in real time all day, every day, recording any radio signatures of solar flares and coronal mass ejections. It will become part of the international e-CALLISTO network of small solar radio telescopes (www.e-callisto.org), as it will use a professionally calibrated scanning radio receiver.All the recorded data will be freely available to anyone on the internet to analyze. Part of the appeal of this project is that it is targeted towards the budding Astronomers of Bulgaria – high school and university students. Another reason it has been successful is the active promotion and openness. The project is in full swing, and there are frequent updates posted on the campaign page, for those interested.

The message to take home? It seems that scientific crowdfunding of small projects is possible even in Bulgaria, so scientists – take notice!

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