Vural Özdemir Ph.D.
Sanjeeva Srivastava Ph.D.
Vural Özdemir, MD, Ph.D., DABCP
Co-Founder, DELSA Global, Seattle, WA, USA
Crowd-Funded Micro-Grants to Link Biotechnology and “Big Data” R&D to Life Sciences Innovation in India
Vural Özdemir, MD, PhD, DABCP1,2*
- Data-Enabled Life Sciences Alliance International (DELSA Global), Seattle, WA 98101, USA;
- Faculty of Management and Medicine, McGill University, Canada;
Aims: This presentation proposes two innovative funding solutions for linking biotechnology and “Big Data” R&D in India with artisan small scale discovery science, and ultimately, with knowledge-based innovation:
- crowd-funded micro-grants, and
- citizen philanthropy
These two concepts are new, and inter-related, and can be game changing to achieve the vision of biotechnology innovation in India, and help bridge local innovation with global science.
Background and Context: Biomedical science in the 21(st) century is embedded in, and draws from, a digital commons and “Big Data” created by high-throughput Omics technologies such as genomics. Classic Edisonian metaphors of science and scientists (i.e., “the lone genius” or other narrow definitions of expertise) are ill equipped to harness the vast promises of the 21(st) century digital commons. Moreover, in medicine and life sciences, experts often under-appreciate the important contributions made by citizen scholars and lead users of innovations to design innovative products and co-create new knowledge. We believe there are a large number of users waiting to be mobilized so as to engage with Big Data as citizen scientists-only if some funding were available. Yet many of these scholars may not meet the meta-criteria used to judge expertise, such as a track record in obtaining large research grants or a traditional academic curriculum vitae. This presentation will describe a novel idea and action framework: micro-grants, each worth $1000, for genomics and Big Data. Though a relatively small amount at first glance, this far exceeds the annual income of the “bottom one billion” – the 1.4 billion people living below the extreme poverty level defined by the World Bank ($1.25/day).
We will present two types of micro-grants. Type 1 micro-grants can be awarded through established funding agencies and philanthropies that create micro-granting programs to fund a broad and highly diverse array of small artisan labs and citizen scholars to connect genomics and Big Data with new models of discovery such as open user innovation. Type 2 micro-grants can be funded by existing or new science observatories and citizen think tanks through crowd-funding mechanisms described herein. Type 2 micro-grants would also facilitate global health diplomacy by co-creating crowd-funded micro-granting programs across nation-states in regions facing political and financial instability, while sharing similar disease burdens, therapeutics, and diagnostic needs. We report the creation of ten Type 2 micro-grants for citizen science and artisan labs to be administered by the nonprofit Data-Enabled Life Sciences Alliance International (DELSA Global, Seattle: http://www.delsaglobal.org). Our hope is that these micro-grants will spur novel forms of disruptive innovation and life sciences translation by artisan scientists and citizen scholars alike.
Address Correspondence to:
Vural Özdemir, MD, PhD, DABCP
Senior Scholar and Associate Professor
Faculty of Management and Medicine, McGill University
1001 Sherbrooke Street West
Montreal, Canada H3A 1G5