A recent article in Xconomy discussed the issue of crowdfunding for biomedical research (see here). The specific example of Microryza.com was given which is a crowdfunding platform that allows funding of individual science projects. The recent Jumpstart our Business Startups (JOBS) Act makes it much easier for crowdfunding to happen in the US. It seems the crowdfunding is here to stay and we can expect it to gradually become established as a way of funding science.
The Microryza website describes projects that do seem very worthwhile, such as using nanobots to tackle cancer and developing diagnostic tools for non-healing wounds. Clearly there are the usual long-standing concerns that investors who give via crowdfunding are naïve and are unlikely to be able to judge the risk factors in areas as complex as biotech. However perhaps there is a lot to be gained by the public having direct exposure to science projects that need funding, and perhaps off the wall ideas that traditional investors would never have touched, may get a sympathetic hearing.