Clowdr CIC offers state-of-the-art virtual conferences to the academic community. Our mission is to slash the climate impact of academia by providing an attractive, effective, and inclusive alternative to physical gatherings, and by empowering others to address other market sectors using our open-source platform.
Clowdr CIC is a UK Community Interest Company focused on delivering virtual conferencing software for the academic community. Our software is fully open source and can be used by anyone free of charge; we also sell turnkey services to reduce the effort for conference organisers and to support our ongoing development.
Clowdr started as a response to climate change: About 70% of carbon emissions for a physical conference come from flights and hotels. Virtual conferences can dramatically reduce this carbon footprint. In the short term, Clowdr was prompted by the pandemic and the need for the conferences our founding team call "home" to go virtual.
Along the way, we've learned that virtual conferences massively expand participation in academic conferences by making them significantly more inclusive for people with disabilities, family responsibilities, caregiving roles, heavy work requirements, geographical restrictions, or limited financial means.
The social experience at a virtual conference makes or breaks the event. This is Clowdr's key focus and we have strong targets for accessibility and inclusivity.
We believe that, by delivering great virtual conference experiences now, we can convince people to continue holding many of their meetings virtually even after the pandemic is over.
Clowdr was conceived at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic when Crista, Jonathan, and Benjamin — professors of Computer Science and experienced conference organisers — realised a rapid solution was needed for organising Association for Computing Machinery conferences.
Beginning as a stop-gap measure for two flagship software engineering and programming languages conferences ICSE and PLDI, Clowdr received funding from the US National Science Foundation, allowing it to evolve to meet the needs of ICFP, CSCW, SPLASH, and numerous other conferences throughout the summer and autumn.
The platform developed dramatically over the first few months, quickly becoming a thriving open source project with features that rival its commercial competitors. After ICFP, our project found several new contributors -- in particular Ed and Ross, who became the CEO and CTO of Clowdr CIC.
A CIC is similar to a US public benefit corporation. The corporate structure and UK regulation ensure that Clowdr remains open source and for the benefit of the community. The company is required to reinvest almost all of its revenue into improving the platform and thereby serving the academic community it came from.