As seen in the previous post about crowdsourcing and e-government, crowdsourcing in general is usable in government activities. In fact, it is even advisable to use it because it brings in transparency in processes and citizen participation (if it is done in the right way).
However, within the different types of crowdsourcing, there is one type that has not been used (as far as I know) in government initiatives: crowdfunding. It is true that different platforms have received grants from the government for its development, but none of these platforms depended on a public institution… until now.
In April 23 (2013) was officially presented Uniempren, a crowdfunding platform that depends on the University of Valencia. Besides allowing to fund projects through reward-based crowdfunding, it also allows searching for employees, partners or investors (using share-based crowdfunding or with some other reward).
On the other hand, I think the platform has an advantage because its funding comes, as discussed in the interview, from the Ministry of Education. This means that, despite the current economic situation and although the platform will surely have objective conditions to meet, they do not have to worry about finding funds through investors, etc.. It’s true that the economic situation is also dificult in the spanish universities, but it’s worst in the spanish enterprises.
Below you can read a series of questions I asked to the people of Uniempren.
Enrique Estellés Arolas (E.) Of all the existing crowdfunding platforms, which in Spain are already enough, you are the first (as far as I know) directly related to a university (dare I say that with public institution). I read on your website that technicians from OPAL (Observatory of Professional Integration and Employment Counselling), are the ones behind the platform. Is OPAL part of the university and therefore an agency / public institution / department?
Uniempren (U.). OPAL is a service that belongs to the General Foundation of the University of Valencia and offers the entire university community the following services:
- Guidance and advice for job hunting and career development.
- Employment and Entrepreneurship
- Training in skills for employment and entrepreneurship.
- Studies and analyzes on the employability of the graduates of the UVEG and analysis of employer demand.
(Summarizing: Yes it is)
(E.) From who and how did the idea of creating this platform?
(U.) The idea of the platform raises after listening to the needs of entrepreneurs requesting advice, detecting that one of the main difficulties in developing their project was funding. We also detected some entrepreneurs had difficulty finding a partner, with a complementary degree, to develop a business plan. Thus, listening to the needs of our entrepreneurs, we decided to offer a solution, and then came Uniempren.
(E.) As it can be seen, now you’re only using the reward-based crowdfunding. Do you plan allowing the funding, not only of small projects, but of potential companies or startups?
(U.) We listen to entrepreneurs and their needs, so we can not rule out any kind of need. Uniempren is a new platform and it has to be adapted to the real needs the entrepreneurs transmit us.
(E.) Who do you think will be your potential customers (crowdsourcers)? Students? Recent graduates? Professionals of any kind?
(U.) Uniempren is offered to all university entrepreneurs, whether they are students or graduates. Uniempren aims to provide a service in which any kind of project could be fund. Currently Crowdfunding platforms are more specialized in the world of visual art, Uniempren tries to give the opportunity to any university student to have its project funded, it doesn’t matter if its of scientific or social area or from the service sector.
(E.) Is there a requirement to be met by projects and customers?
(U.) To request money for a project in Uniempren, the entrepreneurs must be linked with some Spanish state university, whether public or private, as a student, graduate or member of related associations or alumni. Likewise, projects must be viable and not be active in another platform similar to Uniempren.
(E.) Being crowdfunding something relatively new, have you thought to help and advise your customers in some way to promote the development of the projects? Courses, tutorials, etc..
(U.) All entrepreneurs receive support and advice from Uniempren technicians at any time. In addition, the entrepreneur’s university is contacted to offer personal and face to face consulting, and to provide greater support when promoting the project.