These days, basic research is typically government-funded and happens at some sort of university.
This is been the norm for quite a while. However, it is not the only way.
In the old days, research was typically conducted on a patronage basis, where a rich individual would essentially funded a scientist to do research into something of particular interest or occasionally would just give a scientist money to research anything interesting. This model is very rare now.
Here’s another model of research which I quite like.
Let’s call the first model above “government-funded” and the second model “patronage”. Then this third model is essentially crowdfunding.
Historically, research subjects were never given access to the results of any experiments that they were part of.
However, in the crowd funding model, research subjects are also the people funding the research in the first place. A group of subjects with a common issue that they want research would go find a scientist and offer to fund them. in this way, science is driven more by the interests of actual people than rather opaque government grants and the wishes of a few wealthy individuals. of course, it need not replace them so much as augment them.
I see a lot of use for this model of research in fields such as personal genomics and general biology.
For example, individuals who have some sort of rare disease that is not well served by current medicine could use their funds to band together and get the research they need in hopes of finding a cure.
Current crowdfunding platforms could easily modified to accommodate the sort of model.
This also frees scientists in a unique way.
These days, scientists have only a few practical choices for making a living: work for a company and do private research, join a research university and raise grant money, work for some government branch (e.g. the military), or convince someone rich to fund your ideas.
The last option is very rare. The first option limits your research to what a company is interested in. A lot has been written about the headaches of the university option, and the government option can mean a sea of bureaucracy.
This model gives another option to scientists. They can advertise what they are interested in researching, and interested parties can find them. Of course, they can be more proactive and reach out to those groups of people.
I really doubt this idea as a new one, but I think it is a good one that is currently underappreciated.