Crowdfunding Arena: Crowdcube to Double Regional Fundraises

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Is London still caput mundi? Looking at the new initiative of one of the leading platforms in the UK, Crowdcube, not any longer.

Despite the fact that the overall picture is of London increasingly dominating SME equity fundraising deals from all sources, the proportion of regional equity funding deals launched on the Crowdcube platform increased from 38% in 2016 to 50% in 2017.

Hence, working  partnership with six leading supporters of regional SMEs, the company based in Exeter made the decision to focus on regional businesses to double equity funding deals in the regions within five years.

Partners include the likes of:

  • BGF
  • G by Grant Thornton
  • Harper Macleod
  • IdeaSquares
  • Techstart Ventures
  • Virgin StartUp.

In a post on their corporate website, the company stated:

We share a belief with our six partners that the combination of technology, networks and regional funding expertise offers a powerful way to boost SME growth in the regions. Working as a team, we will engage with regional SMEs, advising them on their suitability for crowdfunding and co-investment, share information appropriately, and work with them to help them launch funding rounds on our platform.

Find out more here.

The European Dimension of Civic Crowdfunding

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Civic crowdfunding and match-funding practices are becoming more and more relevant not only across Europe, but also in the framework of financial instruments and blending schemes promoted by the European Union. This edition of CrowdCamp focuses on how to best combine crowdfunding with other sources of funding, among which the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF).

AGENDA

DAY 1 | THURSDAY, 28TH OF JUNE

09:30 WELCOME & REGISTRATION

10:00 OPENING – ECN

10:15 KEYNOTE – Emilia-Romagna Region and ASTER

10:30 SETTING THE CONTEXT 
What are the problems and issues highlighted in the latest cohesion policy report, what should be expected for the coming programming period, and what role can crowdfunding platforms play in bridging the gaps between the EU and citizens all over Europe. First results of the Working Group of interested parties (both from the crowdfunding industry and from regional and local authorities) that will jointly analyse how of Crowdfunding can be integrated into ESI Funds as a match-funding mechanism.

11:15 COFFEE BREAK

11:30 PANEL 1 – CROWDFUNDING PLATFORMS AND MATCH-FUNDING
There have been already many successful examples of partnerships between platforms and regional/local authorities. The aim of the session is to highlight how crowdfunding, thanks to its intrinsic characteristics and flexibility, can prove a valuable asset to public administrations and citizens. In turn, the presence of local authorities boosts citizens’ trust and encourages a more professional ecosystem in the crowdfunding industry.

12:15 PANEL 2 – FINANCIAL PERSPECTIVES ON CIVIC CROWDFUNDING
Representatives from financial institutions and crowdfunding platforms will discuss potential synergies with civic crowdfunding within the scope of existing funding programmes and policies. The outcome of the panel will be to explore possible ways of cooperation between different financial players, aimed at expanding and multiply the impact of civic crowdfunding for local development.

13:00 LUNCH

14:30 SPOTLIGHT ON: STARTUPS AND LOCAL IMPACT CROWDFUNDING
The session is dedicated to the presentation of 3 successful cases of research institutes, university spin-offs and startups who generated a positive local impact through crowdfunding campaigns.

15:00 KEYNOTE – European Parliament’s perspective

15:15 PANEL 3 – MULTI-STAKEHOLDERS EUROPEAN PERSPECTIVE 
Representatives from European institutions will discuss the potential of crowdfunding within the scope of existing funding programmes and policies. The outcome of the panel will be to present the audience with current and future opportunities for the inclusion of crowdfunding into the mainstream of European funding and financial instruments.

16:00 COFFEE BREAK

16:30 KEYNOTE

16:45 PANEL 4 – UNIVERSITY, RESEARCH AND CROWDFUNDING
European universities and researchers will present their latest findings in the field of civic crowdfunding and match-funding, and the economic and social impacts that such funding options produce in local communities and society as a whole.

17:30 CLOSING REMARKS

17:45 NETWORKING DRINKS

DAY 2 | THURSDAY, 29TH OF JUNE

09:00 WELCOME & REGISTRATION

09:30 OPENING – Emil Banca

09:45 PANEL 5 – LOCAL AUTHORITIES AND CROWDFUNDING 
The panel will explore the topic of crowdfunding for local initiatives from the point of view of regional and local authorities that have implemented such match-funding scheme. The discussion will aim at highlighting motivations, obstacles, outcomes and lessons learned from a range of different experiences across the EU.

10:30 COFFEE BREAK

10:45 PRESENTATION OF STARTUPS AND PLATFORMS’ PROJECTS IN CONNECTION WITH ESIF INVESTMENT PRIORITIES 
As a wrap-up of the event, startups and platforms will present their best projects and link it to ESIF Investment Priorities. The session aims at demonstrating the powerful link that already exists between civic crowdfunding initiatives and European Structural and Investment Funds funded actions, therefore showing a clear path between the combination of both funding sources.

12:00 CLOSING REMARKS

12:30 LUNCH

Find out more and register HERE.

How to Use Blockchain to Build a Secure and Integrated Health System

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This piece is part of a collaboration with MLG Blockchain Consulting,  a leading global blockchain development and consulting firm headquartered in Toronto, Canada, with a distributed team across North America, Europe and Asia that is focused on building next generation applications using blockchain and smart contract technology. Emie-Claude Lamoureux PR Director at MLG Blockchain Consulting writes about a startup harnessing blockchain’s potential to create a health system that is patient controlled, and which ensures that the best possible care is delivered to patients.

***

Emie-Claude Lamoureux is the PR Director of MLG Blockchain Consulting

Have you ever been in a situation where you needed your medical records, such as vaccination records, but just couldn’t find them? You’re not alone.

I recently went on a trip to Kenya, and while I knew that had received my Yellow Fever immunization in 2016, I could not find my yellow booklet that held my proof of vaccination. When you think about it, 2016 is really not “that far back”. Why is it that even in the era of the Internet I can’t access my own medical records?

Again, I was astonished to be deprived from having access to my own proof of vaccination.

Let’s take a moment to think about how common it is for people to lose their vaccination records, or other important medical records, and how retrieving them is the equivalent of searching for a needle in a haystack. We know it’s extremely exhausting for us, but the time, effort, and money spent attempting to pull up our own medical history is also taxing the physicians and the administrative staff in hospitals. There is a complete lack of productive data exchange in the healthcare system.

I think I can safely speak for all patients when I say we want access to our own medical records, without having to go through the enormous hassle of contacting each doctor I’ve ever seen. And I’d like to discuss a possible solution.

Blockchain technology offers the structure required to make this a reality, and Coral Health is harnessing blockchain’s potential to create a completely secure, integrated health system that is patient controlled, and which ensures that the best possible care is delivered to patients. Thankfully, zero blockchain knowledge is required to realize the benefits of this upcoming platform.

An integrated health system that works for patients

Today healthcare stakeholders such as providers, insurers and laboratories each store patient data in disparate databases that are siloed from each either. Even transferring medical information within the same organization is often difficult. This prevents the patient from accessing their information and it prevents their information from being used efficiently to coordinate care and lower costs.

An integrated health system will combine these medical records from all those different silos into one convenient place where the patient can access and control it. Just this, is a huge leap. Patients will be able to circumvent the man-made disaster of endless paperwork when changing providers through the integrated health system. It will also mean that authorized insurance providers will be able to approve treatments in real-time since they too will have immediate access to records uploaded by patients and physicians.

Using the blockchain technology and smart contracts, data will be encrypted and will only be shared with parties who have been authorized by the patient to receive the data. All data will be uploaded in real-time to the blockchain’s immutable ledger, which will ensure that past and current records are never lost or altered. With their integrated health system, Coral Health aims to improve care for patients while easing physicians’ administrative workload so that both parties can have more time to work on things that actually matter.

Easy medical record retrieval

Another important point to highlight is that physicians will be able to make streamlined decisions based on a comprehensive and accurate patient record. Astonishingly, some physicians and medical professionals that work in the same hospital do not have identical patient medical records due to inconsistencies in data exchange.

With Coral Health’s blockchain platform, all changes made by physicians across departments and even different hospitals will be automatically uploaded to the blockchain’s immutable ledger, ensuring that each doctor has access to the same information about each patient.

Simple medical record transfer

Besides recently traveling to Kenya, I’m also a Canadian that has moved a lot in my country. Here’s the main point: moving medical information from one physician to another is extremely slow. This inefficient system of information transferral of medical records inhibits physicians from providing the highest level of care.

As mentioned above, Coral Health’s integrated health system will enable patients to give permission for physicians to access to their records. In other words, we will have ownership of our own medical data.

A modern healthcare system

For years we’ve been relying on a system that does not work for us, but against us.
The switch to this new healthcare system will be revolutionary. For too long there’s been major information gaps in healthcare preventing patients from getting the care and assistance they need.

By leveraging blockchain technology, Coral Health is creating an integrated health system that will work for both patients and for doctors. With this system, our comprehensive health records will be easily accessible at all times and patients will finally be able to share, transfer and retrieve information from their records in real-time.

For more information on how Coral Health will improve our healthcare system, make sure to check out their white paper and chat with their team on Telegram.

Crowdfunding: Twitter Activity Drives Increase in Fundraising for Prosocially Oriented Campaigns, Researchers Say

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Findings from a brand-new research confirms that when posting users’ networks exhibit greater embeddedness, campaigns see a disproportionate increase in fundraising.

Researchers from Arizona State University, University of Illinois Chicago and University of Minnesota say that when a transmitter’s message is pro-social or cause-oriented, embeddedness (e.g. the social network structure) plays a stronger role in determining influence.

Analyzing a sample of campaign fundraising data from Kickstarter, combined with data from the campaign-associated Twitter activity, they constructed network-level measures of embeddedness among the Twitter users who initiated social-media posts mentioning a given campaign to assess whether and how the prosociality of campaign objectives and social network embeddedness jointly influence the impact of campaign-related social media activity on campaign fundraising responses.

The study confirms that:

(…) network embeddedness disproportionately amplifies the positive relationship between social media activity and campaign fundraising for public oriented campaigns.

One of the rationales behind this is that:

Embeddedness can facilitate social influence because a focal individual is likely to receive the same message from multiple sources, in tandem, making them less likely to miss the information, and more likely to discern the core elements of the message in an accurate manner.

Indeed, results confirm that:

in the absence of any embeddedness, a 10% increase in the volume of tweets related to the campaign is associated with an approximate 1.51% increase in dollars raised the following day, regardless of campaign orientation. However, in the presence of complete embeddedness, (…) public campaigns experience an additional 2.44% increase in daily fundraising, roughly doubling the 1.25% benefit from closure that is indicated for private campaigns.

Find out more here.

 

Intermediaries? No more

Markets

This piece is part of a collaboration with MLG Blockchain Consulting,  a leading global blockchain development and consulting firm headquartered in Toronto, Canada, with a distributed team across North America, Europe and Asia that is focused on building next generation applications using blockchain and smart contract technology. Emie-Claude Lamoureux PR Director at MLG Blockchain Consulting writes about a team of media,
technology and blockchain experts are building a new model where Creators and Viewers transact directly on the Blockchain, removing the need for intermediaries.

***

Emie-Claude Lamoureux is the PR Director of MLG Blockchain Consulting

Since the rise of YouTube in 2005, there’s been an exponential growth in online content creation and consumption. Creators were finally offered a medium through which they could easily share their videos, while consumers were gifted a never-ending supply of content. As of 2018, YouTube boasts over 1.3 billion users with hours watched daily surpassing 1 billion hours, and uploads per minutes approximated at 300 hours of video.

Creating online content has since become relatively easy and widely accessible. An increasing number of people have attempted to ‘make’ it as YouTubers, or creators on other platforms. However, according to a study,

“the reality is that 96.5% of those chasing video fame will never make enough money to crack the U.S. poverty line.”

Meanwhile, breaking into the top three percent would mean gaining advertising revenue of over $15,000 USD. This is where things get tricky.

Since the beginning, content creators have been paid by advertisers and by sponsors. In essence, the more views a video receives, the higher the pay. Platforms such as YouTube also take a percentage of the profits from the ad views, meaning that they stand to benefit from promoting only a handful of channels. As a result, YouTubers have complained that the company promotes a few stars at the expense of the others who are working for success as vloggers.

There are some businesses that are trying to bring fairer profits to content creators, such as Verasity.

What improvements will Verasity’s video sharing platform bring to content creators?

At a first glance, Verasity’s model of compensation has a few similarities to current platforms. However, on this blockchain-powered video sharing platform, creators won’t have to adopt a one-size-fits-all monetizing model, such as advertisement and sponsors.

Instead, Verasity will focus on the quality of engagements between the viewer and content creator. In other words, third-parties will have no say in valuing content.

This creates a direct connection between the viewer and the content provider by reshuffling the way in which advertisers, content producers, viewers and sponsors interact on the video sharing platform. Using Blockchain technology, content creators will be compensated fairly with the following methods:

Donations & Subscriptions

In certain cases, content viewing will be free and there will be options to donate; creators will then receive direct individual donations from followers who enjoy their content. Creators will also have the option to set an amount of VERA tokens to be paid in order to unlock a video (all payments on the platform will be made in VERA tokens which will create value within the video sharing ecosystem).

Content producers will also have the option to charge a monthly rate of VERA tokens, which will allow their viewers to access content. Think of it as an ‘add-on’ for VIP content on free-to-view channels. It could also be a flat rate that enables unrestricted access to the channel.

Advertising 

Currently, ads are the main method of funding for creators and viewers on current major video sharing platforms. Content creators and viewers also have no say in whether or not they want to watch these ads. While it is commonly known that creators receive cuts of ad revenues on platforms such as YouTube, it is less widely known that creators can be paid as little as 35 cents per 1000 views.

Advertising will remain a traditional method of funding, but will be revamped utilising Verasity’s own Blockchain technology. On their video sharing platform powered by the Blockchain, ads will be offered as an option for viewers who can earn VERA tokens to be used on the platform by watching them. Therefore, rather than basing the payment model for creators on ads, Verasity is using ads as an incentive to obtain tokens, which can then be used to pay creators according to consumer value.

How can content creators get fair profit?  By giving them ownership of their videos.

Decisively, Verasity will be a video sharing platform where content creators decide their preferred method of funding, allowing them to get fair profit for their hard work. Likewise, viewers will be the determining factors of success rather than advertisers. By offering a variety of methods of compensation for content producers, Verasity aims to liberate content creation and consumption through the use of the Blockchain technology.

Download the full WHITEPAPER here.

 

Visa CFO Vasant Prabhu Attacks Bitcoin: “Bubble”

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VISA CFO Vasant Prabhu. Source: Visa Investor Relations

While Google has announced it will ban advertisements that promote cryptocurrencies and initial coin offerings (ICOs) starting from June, as reported also by The Verge, Visa CFO Vasant Prabhu told the FT in a recent interview:

My personal view is that cryptocurrencies are more speculative investment commodities than payment options, operating in a very unsettled regulatory environment. The markets are testing cryptocurrencies today with the volatile fluctuations we’ve seen recently. It’s early days and we’ll watch it very closely.

Find out more here.

Crowdfunding? A question of Personal Branding, Researchers Say

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Self-presentation and online ‘personal branding’ is shown to have a significant effect on the behaviour of funders, a brand-new research by University of Portsmouth confirms.

According to the findings of a recent research by University of Portsmouth, published in the Computers in Human Behavior, people who are more image conscious tend to support more crowdfunding campaigns.

PERSONAL BRANDING AS A STRATEGIC DRIVER FOR FUNDERS

Computers in Human Behavior’s Cover.

Funders who have a public profile containing a photo are more likely to be image conscious and will engage in significantly greater levels of visible funding activity compared with those without, a public release states.

However, the amount of non-visible activity – the amount of money contributed to each project – is lower among those with photos than those without.

Lead author of the study Dr Joe Cox, Principal Lecturer in Economics and Finance at the University of Portsmouth, said:

On the basis of our work, we conclude that self-presentation and online ‘personal branding’ is shown to have a significant effect on the behaviour of funders. This behaviour is partly influenced by a person’s desire for image enhancement and their motivations to improve social image.

METHODOLOGY

The study used data from an online pro-social lending crowdfunding platform, known as Lendwithcare, where details on the number of loans made by an individual are displayed publicly while the amount of money given is not.

Dr Cox currently holds the position of Research Lead for the Economics and Finance subject group at Portsmouth Business School.

By combining the results of a survey with contributors with recorded patterns of actual funding activity, the researchers were able to show that self-presentation associates with significant variations in the behaviour of online funders, especially in terms of their visible and non-visible activities.

INCOME, SOCIAL CAPITAL, AND RELIGIOSITY DO NOT AFFECT ONLINE GIVING

Dr Cox explained:

By contrast, we found no evidence of significant variations in lending behaviour according to levels of income, social capital or religiosity. These factors have been shown to relate positively and significantly to pro-social behaviours and philanthropy in offline settings, suggesting that the relationships between these variables may be different in online contexts.

Dr Cox added:

These findings contribute to the emerging research on digital philanthropy and self-presentation in online environments. Our research also highlights how platform owners can potentially influence the behaviour of self-presenting users by encouraging their funders to think carefully about the creation of public profiles, while also making strategic decisions as to the lending activities that should be made publicly visible.

ABSTRACT

Although the potential for image enhancement has long been considered one of the key motivations for prosocial behavior in conventional offline settings, comparatively little evidence exists as to whether the same assumptions hold for online interactions. Our study addresses this gap in the literature by investigating whether self-presentation leads to variations in prosocial behaviors among contributors to online pro-social crowdfunding campaigns. We present an analysis of data from the Internet crowdfunding platform ‘Lendwithcare’, which combines the results of a tailored survey with recorded patterns of actual funding activity. By using the presence of a publicly visible lender profile as a proxy for image consciousness, we hypothesize that self-presenting funders will increase levels of visible activity (number of loans made), but will not vary levels of non-visible activity (average monetary value of each loan) relative to other funders. We find empirical evidence that is largely consistent with our hypotheses. Our findings are likely to be of interest to both academics and practitioners seeking to better understand funder motivations and prosocial behaviors in online settings.

Reference

Cox, J, Nguyen, T, Thorpe, A, Ishizaka, A, Chakhar, S & Meech, L 2018, ‘Being seen to care: the relationship between self-presentation and contributions to online pro-social crowdfunding campaigns‘ Computers in Human Behavior. DOI: 10.1016/j.chb.2018.01.014