These days, it seems like its easier to find alien planets hundreds of lightyears away than to get funding for space research here on Earth. When your space research happens to be the search for extraterrestrial signals from outer space, that funding can be even more elusive. It’s become so elusive that SETI superstar Jill Tarter has “retired” from the hunt for alien life in an effort to dig up more sources to fund the potentially reality altering mission. Thanks to a generous donation by a space outreach organization with a unique business model, the SETI Institute has hit its first payday in the search for terrestrial funding.
Uwingu is a company whose entire aim is to raise money for all types of space science and research. Through Indiegogo funding drives and an unnamed product that will “game-ify space” (a concept that has proven its worth with Zooniverse), Uwingu plans to generate cash flow directly into the space science and technology projects that could use it. Just last Wednesday, the company announced that fundraising was going so well they would be able to start donating money ahead of schedule, with the first wad of cash going to none other than the SETI Institute. In the announcement, SETI’s Jill Tarter talked about how important Uwingu’s mission and funding are to future of space science.
Even without the looming specter of federal budget ‘sequestration,’ available governmental budgets for space science, space research, and programs encouraging STEM education are shrinking fast. Our ideas and opportunities are bigger and better than ever, but they are all competing for a smaller resource pool. Alternative funding in the form of entrepreneurship is an absolute necessity if we are to continue exploring and solving grand challenges. All of us can participate in the Indiegogo campaign and the launch of Uwingu, and purchase its products to generate revenues to fund the best ideas from scientists today and into tomorrow. Make it so!
With the first batch of money already released, this could be the beginning of a new age in science funding. Crowdfunding sites like Indiegogo and Kickstarter have been a surprisingly effective financial boon to plenty of great ideas that could not find their funding elsewhere, so why not a generic fund for science? If you want to chip in towards the future of space science research you can go check out Uwingu’s Indiegogo project here, or go to their website for further updates on their mystery product.