One Spark Crowdfunding Fest Goes International

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The financial community should really take note of the prize awarded to winners at the One Spark crowdfunding festival in Jacksonville, Fla. That prize? Plane tickets to September's One Spark fest in Berlin.

Crowd funding has a global reach that will only expand, both in depth and in width. A broad range of commercial and artistic ventures were covered in the five categories at One Spark.

There were 632 "creators" in Jacksonville in all, up from 120 last year.

In the Science Category, the winner was Neuoroinitive -- Inside the Neuron, which researched diseases. For Technology, it was PartPic, a system that allows for visual recognition of replacement parts. Sidereal 2014 Takeover won in Music, allowing it to finance an album. In Innovation, it was the Meatrix System Meat Analyzer with a product to cook meat properly. The Art category's winner was Project Atrium, which was a picture inside of the Museum of Contemporary Act Jacksonville.

The venture capital community was also fully represented at One Spark.

For the "creators," there was $3.25 million immediately available in prizes and investments. That should be significantly increased by venture capitalists and other investors from the meetings at One Spark. Six projects last year received additional financing after the event.

As One Spark Executive Director Joe Sampson remarked about the increasing presence of the investment community, "It's exactly what we wanted. We put a stronger emphasis on start-up teams with investable, fundable projects. The fact that those folks (professional investors) have scoured the website and have projects in mind and decided its worth coming to... makes us really happy."

What should make the investors and "creators" glow even more is the growth of One Spark and crowdfunding in both quality and quantity.

There are already dedicated events within specific industries. In late April in Chicago, MedCity is sponsoring "Crowdfunding and the Jobs Act in Healthcare." Earlier this month, there was a crowdfunding event in Silicon Valley.

Crowdfunding is becoming more popular in real estate, too.

At present, most real estate deals are open only to accredited investors with income over $200,000 or net worth over $1 million, excluding primary residence. But the Securities and Exchange Commission is studying the feasibility relaxing those rules. Crowdfunding is particularly appealing in commercial properties.

Prodigy Network has raised more than $200 million from 4,200 investors in Colombia to construct that county's tallest skyscraper. In Washington, D.C., Fundrise takes in money in increments as small as $100 for its projects.

The popularity of crowdfunding will increase even more if the Securities and Exchange Commission takes action to make it easier for equity stakes and more investors.

The more popular crowdfunding becomes, the more rewarding will be events like One Spark, from both the buy side and the sell side. "Creators" will realize the opportunity, which will attract more professional entries of a higher quality. That will naturally bring in financiers looking for attractive investments.

All will benefit from a marketplace that becomes more efficient and more effective in allocating investor capital. It happened with Sundance, South-by-Southwest and other events, and that is certainly the direction of One Spark.

At the time of publication, the author held no positions in any of the stocks mentioned.

This article represents the opinion of a contributor and not necessarily that of TheStreet or its editorial staff.

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