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Report from Amsterdam’s first academic research seminar

By Irina Enache

What is certainly true about the relatively new phenomenon of crowdfunding is that theory lacks behind practice. Should you happen to work with the former, it is furthermore difficult to be aware of other academic and research projects on the topic, since many are undergoing and yet to be published.

In this context, the initiative of the Vrije Universiteit (VU), Amsterdam Business School (UvA) and the Crowdfunding Hub to organize an academic research seminar on crowdfunding was more than welcomed.

Starting 2014, the Hub has organized monthly crowdfunding meetups but has so far gathered mostly entrepreneurs and crowdfunding platforms. The research seminar is thus a first attempt at connecting another important stakeholder in the industry: academics and researchers. This, argued Ronald Kleverlaan, founder of the Hub, is essential as the industry is growing quickly and cannot rely solely on “trial and error” wisdom. Data and insights coming from the theoretical perspective are needed to support a truly structural growth.

As a result, 12 presentations were held yesterday, June 5th at the Crowdfunding Hub’s location (the historic Beurs van Berlage, Amsterdam). The seminar’s first edition aims to bring together and connect various academics and researchers engaged with the alternative revenue model and map out current initiatives. It gathered around 20 participants.

Status scientific research
The first session of the seminar introduced the current status of scientific research on crowdfunding. Irma Borst from Vrije Universiteit’s Organizational Sciences department offered some context around why this revenue model is popular – namely, the financial crisis that brought with it public and private fund cuts, a failing trust in banks coupled with an increased desire of people to control their investments. In The Netherlands alone, the amount of money raised through various forms of crowdfunding was 14 million euro in 2012, via 29 crowdfunding platforms. 2014 has already raised 60 million euro with a number of 81 active platforms.

While existing literature already sketched the taxonomy of crowdfunding, multi-faceted research is essential and missing, Borst argued. What can we learn about from philanthropic studies, law and policy, linguistics, organizational science, social network analysis or entrepreneurial finance?, asked Borst, as she gave the floor to an eclectic mix of speakers, disciplines, and perspectives. Presentation ‘Current status of scientific research on crowdfunding’ 

Tsvi Vinighighlighted the topics that are relevant when considering crowdfunding from an entrepreneurial and innovation perspective.UvA is exploring the phenomenon crowdfunding with 10 Master students and 1 PhD candidate and started international collaboration with Berkeley’s global crowdfunding project. Presentation ‘Crowdfunding research @ UvA



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