A Jacksonville University professor will have more influence than most folks at the second annual One Spark festival, a five-day event in downtown Jacksonville billed as the “World’s Crowdfunding Festival,” which last year drew about 130,000 people and 900 participants.
After a rigorous selection process among many applicants, Physics Prof. Brian Lane was named one of three jurors in the Science category for the April 9-13 festival, which features more than $300,000 in prizes and up to $3.25 million in investment capital for entrepreneurs, artists and inventors.
“I’m honored to be selected as a One Spark science juror. Roles like this require a technical background and the ability to engage the public, and I’m excited to be able to use those skills,” Lane said. “I’m also glad I can be part of JU’s renewed efforts to engage the community. We have a great deal of expertise among our faculty, and I see being a juror as the opportunity to help Jacksonville see us as approachable and helpful.”
Lane said events like One Spark offer a great chance to bring ideas together with funding opportunities. In the sciences, for example, projects are typically supported by grants, with a large portion of the funding coming from government agencies or fundraising organizations, he said. However, demand for grants far exceeds supply, and research is becoming more interdisciplinary and therefore more difficult to place into traditional categories).
“So grant proposals require a great deal of preparation with very unlikely payoff,” he said. “Crowdfunding venues like One Spark provide researchers and developers -- especially those just starting out -- another means of support.”
According to the One Spark web site, jurors will select a winner of a $10,000 award in their category (Art, Music, Innovation, Science and Technology). The judges will “be on the ground, checking out each Creator Project in their respective categories to narrow their list down to three finalists, who will be announced at 6 p.m. Saturday, April 12, at Hemming Plaza. On Sunday, those finalists will pitch to their jury in front of a live audience -- “Shark Tank” style -- in Hemming Plaza, and winners will be announced at the Closing Ceremony.”
The other Science category jurors along with Lane are Noel Martin, a philosopher and cognitive scientist completing his interdisciplinary PhD in philosophy and cognitive science at the University of California, San Diego; and Pere A. Ventura, a product development engineer with Biomet Microfixation who takes innovative medical concepts and makes them a reality to help heal and correct deformities caused by genetics and trauma.
Lane welcomed the idea of using expert jurors who know how to communicate to blend the crowdfunding approach with the checks and balances of peer review.
“What I’ll be looking for in entries is whether the Creators have built their projects on relevant previous work, whether they’ve demonstrated some important insight into a topic, and whether the project is beneficial to society at large,” he said.
So take note, Creators. The jury is still out, but not for long.