Crowdfunding – the process of crowds of people investing relatively small amounts of money online to fund new ventures and individuals – promises to reshape the future of finance, and researchers at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business want to understand how. The school this week announced a new partnership with the Fung Institute for Engineering Leadership to do just that.
Coined CrowdBerkeley, the new partnership will equip Berkeley-Haas finance and social enterprise faculty and researchers to study databases aggregated by Fund Institute engineers from global crowdfunding platforms. The researchers will use the data to examine and understand how crowdfunding is transforming traditional financial models as well as the opportunities it presents for innovation and new ventures.
“The goal of CrowdBerkeley is simple: we aim to leverage the excellence of UC Berkeley to learn, educate, and inform entrepreneurs, policymakers and researchers on how crowdfunding can shape the economy and society,” Professor Laura D’Andrea Tyson, director of the Haas School’s Institute for Business and Social Impact (IBSI), said in a statement. “We will pursue this work in a way that reflects the long-standing tradition of the University of California at Berkeley as a university of innovation.”
Tyson will lead CrowdBerkeley together with Professor Lee Fleming, faculty director of the College of Engineering’s Fung Institute for Engineering Leadership, and Adair Morse, an assistant professor in the Berkeley-Haas finance group. Dr. Richard Swart, an internationally recognized thought leader in crowdfunding, has joined IBSI as Scholar in Residence and will also contribute to the new initiative, as will Ben Mangan, executive director of the Berkeley-Haas Center for Social Sector Leadership.
The study of crowdfunding is not new at Haas. The school reports that academics and students have come together as part of more than a dozen campus teach-ins on the subject. Crowdfunding models have also been incorporated into the traditional finance curriculum.
“We care about training our students so they will be best positioned to understand the future of finance from the standpoint of policy, regulation and tech,” Morse said in a statement. He teaches the “New Venture Finance” MBA course, in which students learn how to raise equity without traditional investors, create credit and loan models without traditional lenders and understand the implications of new currencies such as bitcoin. His course and others have helped prepare Haas students to launch several successful crowdfunding companies, including Indiegogo and WeFinance.