Benchfly is web site for scientists, especially lab scientists. I’ve been interviewed there in the past, and have since then kept my eye on it, and on Alan Marnett, it’s founder. The organization of science, grants, and creativity is something often on my mind, as well as looking into alternative ways to structure science (like here and here).
But whereas I have just jaw-jawed about alternative mechanisms for science, Benchfly is actually putting forth one. See the “Search for Research” video at their main page. Their three minute video describes the mechanism, which roughly concerns using a “Search for Research” toolbar for one’s searches, the advertising revenue which gets piped into a research pot, and matched by a donor (right now, SIGMA Life Sciences). Then, one writes a 100 word — yes, nearly Tweet-like in length! — to get a microgrant (e.g., $500). If toolbar users like the grantees research, more might come his or her way.
It’s too early, of course, to tell if this will work. But it’s that kind of dynamic market creativity that will eventually work, and Benchfly / Alan Marnett seems smart enough to do it!