ASU and SciStarter awarded NSF Innovation CORPS grant to foster access to, and commercialization of, citizen science tools

By June 17th, 2016 at 9:50 pm | Comment

Today, SciStarter, a research affiliate of Arizona State University, was awarded a National Science Foundation iCORPS grant (Innovation Corps).
The primary goal of NSF I-Corps is to foster entrepreneurship that will lead to the commercialization of technology that has been supported previously by NSF-funded research (SciStarter 2.0).
  • The approach to entrepreneurship uses techniques developed to validate each commercial opportunity in a recognized, effective way: customer and business model development
  • The vehicle for commercialization activities will most often be start-ups founded by the I-Corps participants; successful I-Corps projects will be prepared for business formation
  • The I-Corps programs feed the NSF Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) andSmall Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs
  • NSF will work with the private sector to bring additional resources to the table (in the form of partnerships and finance), when warranted
Envisioned Output
SciStarter aims to extend our service to citizen science and STEM learning by making it possible for citizen scientists to build, borrow or buy the instruments needed to do these projects. Too many scientists are  not permitted to sell or even recommend tools and products required to collect and share data (rain gauge, telescopes, sensors, etc.) for their crowd-sourced research projects. SciStarter will be the place where people find and join projects AND access the tools they need. A one-stop shop for individual purchases and bulk-to-individual (classroom or district-wide) purchases.
Through the ICORPS support of the “Citizen Science Tools Team,” we will gain a better understanding on how to approach this and move forward in a way that is scalable.
SciStarter extends the promise of Citizen Science by connecting millions of citizen scientists with scientists in need of their help through formal and informal research projects. Citizen Science is a fast growing field that engages the public in scientific inquiry, most prominently through data collection projects and environmental monitoring using sensors, mini spectrometers, water testing kits and other tools. In our work in the Citizen Science community, we see thousands of examples of citizen science as well as related challenges and opportunities,including access to the tools required to get involved in Citizen Science projects.

We aim to leverage our understanding of this and our advantage of already being the “Match.com” in the Citizen Science community to scale and sustain an “Amazon for Citizen Science” to provide access to the required and recommended instruments, related consulting and other turnkey solutions.

One area of exploration will be the White House’s Makers-to-Manufacturing effort designed to support low cost, high quality tools that can be distributed to 1000 customers on average. This and other Maker/Citizen Science connections will be explored at ASU’s Citizen Science Makers Summit in October 2016.

The Citizen Science Tools Team intends to facilitate a broad adaptation of Citizen Science by reducing a yet-to-be- addressed barrier to help scientists acquire reliable citizen-generated data by making it easier for volunteers to identify, acquire, and use the right tools for each project. We imagine a holistic solution that includes projects, support, match-making, marketing and funding solutions, and optional products such as training materials, customer ratings/reviews of the tools, and on-site consulting. Our interest is in continuing to be a catalyst in Citizen Science by connecting people to opportunities to engage and in lowering barriers to public participation in scientific research while creating a hybrid academic-consumer sustainability model.
The Citizen Science Tools Team leading this effort are:
Darlene Cavalier – PI
Micah Lande – Mentor
Brianne Fisher – Entrepreneurial Lead
David Sittenfeld -Entrepreneurial Lead (2)
Erica Prange – Researcher
If you are a citizen science project owner, add your required or recommended tool to your project page on SciStarter.
If you are a Maker or manufacturer of a low-cost instrument that can be used for citizen science and you’d like to help connect your tool to researchers and participants, email tools@SciStarter.org .
To learn more about the SciStarter-ASU vision for citizen science and makers, watch this brief Public Television video.

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