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Science for the people: research funding revolutionized

When it comes to science, today’s society is positioned to expand and innovate research more than ever before. However, despite our technological and intellectual advancements, one major hurdle still exists: funding. It’s difficult for new ideas to take off and for researchers at early stages in their careers to access the support they need to actualize their ideas.

Denny Luan,’11 and Cindy Wu, ’11, are changing this through Experiment, a platform they created in 2012 for scientists to generate crowd-sourced funding and for the public to give directly to scientific research that matters to them.

Luan and Wu came up with the idea for Experiment while students at the UW. Read this A&S Perspectives article to learn more about how their UW experiences helped to shape the project, which at the time they called Microryza. In 2013 they moved to the Bay area to participate in Y Combinator, a Mountain View-based incubator program for early-stage startups. After relocating to California, they both knew it was the perfect place to build Experiment.

“There is such a dynamic and growing science startup scene in San Francisco, and we wanted to be a part of it,” says Luan. “It’s beyond biotech, it’s people changing not just the way that science is being done but also how it’s being thought about and supported.”

Luan and Wu’s work with Experiment is playing a major role in that transformation. Since they started crowdsourcing scientific research in 2012, their start-up has funded more than 250 research projects, raising more than $1.4 million in pledges. Experiment’s staff of seven has partnered with 90% of the top 100 U.S. research institutions. Luan says that they receive regular requests to expand their services globally, something they hope to do soon.

Both Luan and Wu were planning on going to graduate school to pursue advanced degrees in the sciences before Experiment. Now they understand their role in the scientific community in a different way—one that they feel has broader impact. “One of the most rewarding parts for me about Experiment is that I get to do research by proxy,” Luan says. “I get to be involved in a diverse array of research through the people we work with, and I get to help them by making it possible for others to support their work.”

And they’re not the only ones who understand the work they’re doing in this light. This year Luan and Wu were named to Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list of entrepreneurs innovating health care.

Learn more about Experiment, and view projects seeking funding at