LLNI thrilled to be involved with crowdfunding for cancer research

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Professor Ken Mills, a leukaemia researcher based in the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology (CCRCB) at Queen’s, has teamed up with LLNI, Cancer Focus and the University’s Foundation to develop and host Researchfunderni.com – a crowdfunding website – to promote small scale pilot research projects.

Crowdfunding is the use of small amounts of capital from a large number of individuals to finance a new project or business venture. It accesses networks of friends, family, colleagues and supporters through social media like Facebook and Twitter to promote the venture and to attract much needed support.

Commenting ahead of the launch of Researchfunderni.com which will facilitate the crowdfunding initiative, Professor Mills said: “Funding for small scale pilot projects is always difficult to obtain but is essential for obtaining data to support large scale grant applications. Researchfunderni.com will allow researchers – cancer researchers in the first instance – to promote pilot projects for crowdfunding.”

The development of the Researchfunderni crowdfunding platform was done in partnership with crowdfunding specialist provider, Hubbub, who work with over 100 universities and nonprofits globally to create philanthropic crowdfunding programmes. Founder of Hubbub, Jonathan May, said “We're really excited to be working with the Researchfunderni.com team: the projects are exactly the kind of innovative funding model we need in the 21st century for early stage research. We hope that by using crowdfunding both the concept and the model of this kind of innovation will inspire others, as well as change lives.”

However, for this relatively new phenomenon for funding academic research there are three basic crowdfunding models – donation-based, rewards-based and investment-based – the Queen’s initiative is centred on donation-based crowdfunding.  “Through Researchfunderni.com a range of projects will be featured on the website covering breast, colorectal, lung and blood cancers which members of the public can support through donations. These contributions will go directly to the project, BUT only if the project reaches its pre-set target! Insufficient funding and the project will not go ahead!” added Professor Mills.

The unique aspect of the Queen’s crowdfunding site is that it being done in partnership with Hubbub platform and local cancer research charities. Some of the projects are supported by Leukaemia & Lymphoma NI and Cancer Focus NI whilst others are in association with Queen’s Foundation.    

Researchfunderni.com was funded by a grant from Queen’s Enterprise Development enabling Professor Mills to work with colleagues in CCRCB to identify projects that may have potential for crowdfunding. The project proposers all work in CCRCB and include PhD students, post-doctoral scientists, clinicians and lecturers and all share a passion for improving patient outcomes through research.

The projects are equally diverse and include identifying why some breast cancer patients develop a second breast cancer, researching drug resistance, and even helping to purchase a new ultra-cold freezer! 

Welcoming the latest fundraising enterprise, Ms Norma Sinte, Director of Development and Alumni Relations and Honorary Secretary of the Queen's Foundation, said: “Professor Mills and his colleagues are to be commended for this very imaginative crowdfunding venture.

“CCRCB is at the forefront of translational cancer research in the UK. Researchers like Ken are developing innovative treatments for those who have cancer, speeding up the process of taking laboratory discoveries through to the patient’s bedside and improving outcomes for patients both locally and globally.”

It is expected that other projects will be added in the near future and that the concept could be expanded to include those for medical research on diabetes or cardiac disorders and other topics such as chemistry, engineering or the humanities.