ResearchGATE Monetizes Its Web-platform Connecting Researchers Worldwide
The “FaceBook For Scientists”
Scientists were, and still are, the driving force behind the booming IT industry and its newest sector – Cloud Computing. Scholars have been actively sharing ideas since the dawn of times although the invention of aviation, telephone and electricity made it possible for scientific world to interact in real-time or nearly real-time. Then Internet was born and a few decades later collaborative online work and scientific research is not uncommon within scientific community around the globe.
Such amazing, and very fast, development of the online model as well as the raise of Cloud Computing inevitably lead to the emergence of social networks for scientists. Thus, a number of online scientific networks came to life in only a decade with ResearchGATE – started in 2009 – looking as one the most promising Web 2.0 web-based platform for scientists. The fact that the platform managed to attract over 500,000 registered users in less that a year should be alarming for peers and encouraging for ResearchGATE’s founders.
Berlin-headquartered ResearchGATE was founded by Ijad Madisch, Horst Fickenscher, Sören Hofmayer as a start-up developing a Science 2.0 platform aimed at connecting scientists worldwide and providing tools and application for research conducted in the cloud. It is based on a widespread philosophy utilized by competitors like Academia.edu, Ologeez, and Lab Meeting but ResearchGATE is offering a more advanced approach regarding online collaboration.
It is often called Facebook for scientists because users are invited to create profiles, attach research papers and add contacts. Profiles are divided according to scientific disciplines like Philology, Biology, Mathematics, Physics, etc., and users can search and add contacts depending on their professional and research interests. Online discussions are available as well as creation of groups within the system. Unsurprisingly, one of the most populated groups of scientists in ResearchGATE is the one composed of computer scientists.
Some of the most intriguing features of ResearchGATE include applications and tools like ReStory, a GoogleDocs-style tool allowing users to write and edit documents in a collaborative manner. Another tool, ReMeet, offers scheduling and messaging functionality that enables users to schedule meetings and conduct conference calls within the platform. ReFind, the platform’s search engine, provides keyword searches based on semantic and contextual correlations, going beyond the usual search engine capabilities. The platform also is capable of suggesting similar papers, scientists, resources and group to users who have created a profile in the system.
One should think of ResearchGATE not only as an abstract scholarly community but as a promising business opportunity, too. Investors realized the potential of ReseachGATE relatively fast and in September, 2010 the company closed its Series A funding, which was lead by Benchmark Capital. Accel Partners’ Silicon Valley office also took part in this first round of financing with individual angel investors from the U.K., the United States and Germany also participating in the funding. In addition, Simon Levene (angel investor and former partner at Accel Partners), Joachim Schoss (angel investor and founder of Scout24), and Benchmark Capital general partner Matt Cohler joined the board of directors of the company while Michael Birch (co-founder of Bebo), Martin Sinner (co-founder of idealo.com), Ulrich Essmann (co-founder of sedo.com), Christian Vollmann (angel investor and founder of MyVideo.de), and Rolf Christof Dienst (general partner at Wellington Venture Capital) took part in the Series A funding as investors.
“We will continue to support the innovations and add key features demanded by our users to stay connected and share information efficiently. We will continue to push the collaborative boundaries and serve as a catalyst in the evolution of scientific research and discovery,” Ijad Madisch, co-founder and CEO of ResearchGATE, commented in a press release following the completion of the Series A financing round. He also explained that the funds raised will be invested in further expansion of the platform as well as in development of new applications and tools.
Obviously, ResearchGATE possesses huge business potential bearing in mind that the platform is used by 500,000 users and the number of users is growing every day. Beneath the uncolored facts, however, lies even bigger potential because a great portion of these users are influential opinion and decision makers. Undoubtedly, ResearchGATE will try to monetize this user capital one way or another.
By Kiril Kirilov