crowdfunding

Starting today, small companies can raise up to $1 million from ordinary investors through what are called "crowdfunding portals." These portals are different from sites like Kickstarter. As one of the portal sites SeedInvest explains on its website:

"Kickstarter promises rewards for successful projects in the form of anything that is not monetary, whereas equity crowdfunding, as its name suggests, promises a financial slice of the pie when it comes to startup and small-business investment."

One of the victims of an alleged crowdfunding scam says he’s not counting on getting his money back. But he’s glad Washington’s attorney general has filed a consumer protection lawsuit. It’s believed to be the first state action against a crowdfunding project sponsor.

Brad Lansford only lost $9, but he still feels burned. In 2012, he backed a Kickstarter project called Asylum Playing Cards.

Gabriel Spitzer / KPLU

Editor's Note: This is the second installment of a two-part series. Learn how scorpion vemon led local researchers to the brink of discovery of a new class of drugs in Part 1.

Consider the chemical elegance of a potato. Or a petunia. Or a horseshoe crab.

Somewhere in each of those organisms is a special little protein uniquely equipped to do what medicines do: barge in on biological processes and mess with them. With a little tweaking, it’s possible they could be trained to, say, keep cancer cells from spreading.

A few years ago, Dr. Jim Olson and his team at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center had figured out how to make those proteins by the thousands, but they hadn’t yet figured out how to pay for it.

Crowdfunding websites have grown rapidly as a way to raise money for creative ventures—everything from movies to scientific research, to clever inventions. You might have heard of Kickstarter, Indiegogo or Rockethub. It would be just a small leap to use those same platforms to sell shares in a startup. That's illegal right now, but maybe not for long.