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‘Body builder’ seeks research bucks

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The Star Phoenix by Morgan Modjeski | October 16, 2015

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A University of Saskatchewan medical school grad has turned to crowdfunding for a research-filled year he hopes will further his dream of building - and rebuilding - the human body.

Adam McInnes, who graduated in June, is interested in a career in regenerative medicine, but because the field is so new, he's stuck in limbo when it comes to cash for research.

"I'm kind of falling into this weird crack where I want to do observerships, but there's no funding," he said.

Not a student or a grad student, McInnes said he's exhausted "every avenue" to secure funding in Canada, the U.S. and Great Britain that is available to him and is now asking people over the Internet to give him more than $45,000 for his cause through an Indiegogo campaign.

Related: 3 Ways to Use Crowdfunding for Market Research

"I think the general public has a huge interest in this," he said, noting he'll be bringing the knowledge back to Saskatchewan.

"They've heard about it in all kinds of media and they see these really cool stories coming out, and they're wondering: 'Where it is? When is it going to happen and when is this stuff going to be available to us?' " McInnes said. "With that alone, I think there's a lot of potential for people to get really interested in something like this and be willing to put some funding towards me."

McInnes has received offers to study at both the MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Edinburgh and the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh, noting money raised would be used to cover minimum funding requirements outlined by the programs, travel costs, living expenses and trips to relevant conferences such as the World Conference on Regenerative Medicine in Leipzig, Germany.

Related: Crowdfunding university research and tech commercialization: 6 sites that are doing it

Dr. Stephen Badylak, a professor in the U of P department of surgery and a deputy director at the McGowan Institute, in an emailed statement called his McInnes' project "a cool idea" that "shows initiative," and wished him luck. Suzanne Paschall, the Saskatchewan ambassador for the National Crowdfunding Association of Canada, said although the method has been used to further projects such as independent movies or startup companies in the past, using crowdfunding for research is becoming more common.

"Crowdfunding exists in the not-for-profit world, in the for-profit world (and) in the education world," said Paschall.

"There's all kinds of people out there crowdfunding for all different kinds of things," she said in a phone interview.

"It's a market for people to do whatever it is they want to do to, and essentially, if you can raise money for it, you can do it."

After examining McInnes' crowdfunding campaign, she said he will need a "pretty-big crowd," noting for him - like a lot of professionals - coming off as sincere and passionate in their promotional material can be difficult.

"People who know you and love you are going to support you regardless," she said. "But for total strangers out there in the world, it does matter because they're going to chose what campaigns they support based on what they learn about you in the video and how they feel about you."

Related: 7 Ways to Craft a Kickass Crowdfunding Video

Paschall said McInnes' campaign will want to focus on the local Saskatoon and Saskatchewan community as the campaign may be seen as a "nice to do, as opposed to a have to do."

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The National Crowdfunding Association of Canada (NCFA Canada) is a cross-Canada non-profit actively engaged with both social and investment crowdfunding stakeholders across the country.  NCFA Canada provides education, research, leadership, support and networking opportunities to over 1100+ members and works closely with industry, government, academia, community and eco-system partners and affiliates to create a strong and vibrant crowdfunding industry in Canada.  Learn more About Us or visit

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