Exploring Novel Funding Strategies for Innovative Medical Research: The HORAO Crowdfunding Campaign.

Schucht, Philippe; Roccaro-Waldmeyer, Diana M; Murek, Michael; Zubak, Irena; Goldberg, Johannes; Falk, Stephanie; Dahlweid, Fried-Michael; Raabe, Andreas (2020). Exploring Novel Funding Strategies for Innovative Medical Research: The HORAO Crowdfunding Campaign. Journal of medical internet research, 22(11), e19715. Centre of Global eHealth Innovation 10.2196/19715

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The rise of the internet and social media has boosted online crowdfunding as a novel strategy to raise funds for kick-starting projects, but it is rarely used in science.


We report on an online crowdfunding campaign launched in the context of the neuroscience project HORAO. The aim of HORAO was to develop a noninvasive real-time method to visualize neuronal fiber tracts during brain surgery in order to better delineate tumors and to identify crucial cerebral landmarks. The revenue from the crowdfunding campaign was to be used to sponsor a crowdsourcing campaign for the HORAO project.


We ran a 7-week reward-based crowdfunding campaign on a national crowdfunding platform, offering optional material and experiential rewards in return for a contribution toward raising our target of Swiss francs (CHF) 50,000 in financial support (roughly equivalent to US $50,000 at the time of the campaign). We used various owned media (websites and social media), as well as earned media (press releases and news articles) to raise awareness about our project.


The production of an explanatory video took 60 hours, and 31 posts were published on social media (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter). The campaign raised a total of CHF 69,109. Approximately half of all donations came from donors who forwent a reward (CHF 28,786, 48.74%); the other half came from donors who chose experiential and material rewards in similar proportions (CHF 14,958, 25.33% and CHF 15,315.69, 25.93%, respectively). Of those with an identifiable relationship to the crowdfunding team, patients and their relatives contributed the largest sum (CHF 17,820, 30.17%), followed by friends and family (CHF 9288, 15.73%) and work colleagues (CHF 6028, 10.21%), while 43.89% of funds came from donors who were either anonymous or had an unknown relationship to the crowdfunding team. Patients and their relatives made the largest donations, with a median value of CHF 200 (IQR 90).


Crowdfunding proved to be a successful strategy to fund a neuroscience project and to raise awareness of a specific clinical problem. Focusing on potential donors with a personal interest in the issue, such as patients and their relatives in our project, is likely to increase funding success. Compared with traditional grant applications, new skills are needed to explain medical challenges to the crowd through video messages and social media.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Head Organs and Neurology (DKNS) > Clinic of Neurosurgery

UniBE Contributor:

Schucht, Philippe, Murek, Michael Konrad, Zubak, Irena, Goldberg, Johannes, Raabe, Andreas


600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health




Centre of Global eHealth Innovation




Nicole Söll

Date Deposited:

12 Jan 2021 09:29

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 15:43

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

brain tumor crowdfunding neurosciences neurosurgery science funding





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