Join the Popular Science #CrowdGrant Challenge And Do Something Amazing

Update 1: Read our latest #CrowdGrant post to learn three simple yet effective tips for creating a successful crowdfunding project.

Update 2: We have extended the deadline to Sunday, June 30, by 11:59 p.m. EDT. Hooray!

Update 3: Our 24 finalist projects are now live and ready for crowdfunding at! Take a look and contribute to the projects you’re excited about in exchange for cool rewards.

Popular Science has celebrated the world-changing work of scientists, thinkers, and makers for more than 140 years. We’re always tickled to learn how many of these great minds read the magazine, yet are bummed to hear how often sparse funding impedes their progress.

So starting today, we’re trying something different: We’re going to help crowdfund our readers’ best ideas through the #CrowdGrant Challenge.

Help crowdfund our finalists through Aug. 30.


Help crowdfund our finalists through Aug. 30.

CrowdGrant is a brand-new partnership with RocketHub—a premiere crowdfunding platform—that’s now accepting the best and brightest project proposals in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and other future-shaping fields. Whether you’re a bathtub geneticist or an amateur hydroelectric engineer, a weekend chemist or a microelectronics master, we want to see your big idea in our queue for review.

Complete submissions are due by Sunday, June 30, by 11:59 p.m. EDT, and you must use to submit. For the “Set Your Time Limit” section of the submission, enter the earliest date available (we’ll change finalist submissions’ time limits to July 15 through August 30).

Start planning your project now—it can take a couple weeks to polish an appeal to crowdfunders, as each submission requires a thorough description, a compelling video, rewards for those who decide to chip in, and more. Visit RocketHub’s Success School to learn and master the art of successful crowdfunding campaigns. And if you have any questions about how RocketHub works, its FAQ is a great starting point.

Editors at Popular Science and experts at RocketHub will review, vet, and select all #CrowdGrant finalists. Winning submissions will attempt to make the world a better place while embodying the innovative spirit that Popular Science greatly values. Submissions should be related to science, technology, mathematics, or engineering.

To help grease the wheels, we’ve provided a handful of hypothetical submissions below:

  • Angela is an engineer who wants to develop an open-source system to monitor a dog while someone is away from home and, if the dog gets into trouble, calls the owner to intervene. But Angela doesn’t have the money to buy the tools and parts to bring her idea to fruition.
  • Brian, a gardener-cum-rooftop farmer, recently completed a prototype for an affordable rooftop farming system designed to fit slanted roofs. To make a commercial product, so any homeowner can easily grow food (and lower energy bills), he requires money to line up factories to build and ship the parts.
  • Cathy is a biological sciences professor who thinks people should have access to a low-cost kit to test themselves for genetic disorders—and keep the sequencing results private for life, no matter which company sequences the DNA. Now all she needs is cash to make it happen.
  • Doug, a Coast Guard dispatcher, spent a year developing autonomous drone software that tracks and follows a rescuer and can deploy lifesavers from the air with a simple hand gesture. All that’s missing are the financial resources to launch a pilot program at his local beach.
  • Evelyn is an astronomer looking for habitable exoplanets. She’s designed a system to allow backyard astronomers to help with the search, but she needs funding to both license her software and mass-produce a custom robotic tripod attachment.

We’ll announce #CrowdGrant finalists on July 15, when project leaders can start their 45-day crowdfunding campaigns (all campaigns close on August 30).

Unlike other crowdfunding platforms, there’s no requirement to hit a goal to receive funding. Yet most of the hard work of successful crowdfunding campaigns—rallying support through circles of people you know, frequent updates to funders, social media promotion, delivering on rewards, etc.—falls on project leaders.

To that end, we’ve created the #CrowdGrant hashtag. Use it to follow the conversation or spread the word about projects on Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, and more. (And again, we encourage you to click through RocketHub’s Success School before submitting a project.)

Finally, you may ask what makes #CrowdGrant different than simply crowdfunding on your own. It’s a great question. Popular Science has served as a touchstone of science and technology for nearly a century and a half. That we’re hand-picking finalists is not insignificant—especially as we reach millions of monthly website visitors, millions of readers of the print magazine, and a rapidly growing number of tablet users. That’s a big draw. We also intend to promote finalists as widely and as deeply as we can.

So what are you waiting for? Do something amazing and submit your idea today.

Note: Safeguarding your ideas is your responsibility—we don’t have the resources to answer questions about intellectual property or patents. However, plenty of online forums, Meetup groups, USPTO videos, and legal teams exist that might help. (You may want to start with our May 2013 issue’s primer on the changes to patenting, especially in regard to independent inventors.)

The fine print: #CrowdGrant is not a contest, lottery, raffle, or anything left to chance with the promise of a cash prize. Submitting a project idea costs nothing and also guarantees nothing. RocketHub’s standard commission structure applies to the money donated to support projects, and Popular Science will share this commission to cover community management, marketing, and other costs associated with our involvement. Just like a typical RocketHub project, this means no additional fees for anyone (hooray!). See RocketHub’s FAQ for complete details about their crowdfunding platform, commission structure, and more.

Questions? Email us at