Those behind it say it will change the world and have a huge impact on our lives – and ResearchGate is one step closer to achieving that goal after securing a Series B funding round led by Founders Fund partner Luke Nosek, co-founder of PayPal.
Also participating in the round are Benchmark Capital, Accel Partners, Bebo co-founder Michael Birch and David O. Sacks, founder and CEO of Yammer. The Founders Fund investment comes from the company’s Fund IV, its largest yet, which is focused on transformational technology particularly in the fields of medicine and biotechnology.
ResearchGate has been dubbed a Facebook for scientists in the mainstream media, and enables and promotes collaboration for researchers around the world. It already has more than 1.4 million members in 193 countries, and CEO and co-founder – not to mention Harvard graduate – Ijad Madisch is in no doubt as to how important the project can be. He told Silicon Allee: “We have grown very fast in the last year and we now have a very significant product. It’s not just like other startups, which are perhaps industry changing. This is more world changing. There is a big difference – there aren’t many things in the world that can really change how science works. This will have a huge impact on our lives, for example in treatment.”
Ijad refused to put a figure on ResearchGate’s latest funding round, stating that to focus on the money was missing the point. The important thing about the new investors, he argued, was that they were exactly the kind of people who can allow the project to move forward: “They can help us in building a product which changes a market where there hasn’t been much change in the last few decades. It’s a very untapped market and a very rigid market, and we are trying to make science much more open.”
The money will help ResearchGate achieve their two major ambitions – to allow scientists to build their reputation through direct interaction with others around the world rather than relying on publications in journals, and to enable universities and other institutions to create collaborative spaces. Ijad added: “Before you publish your first paper, it takes some time, sometimes several years. That’s time in which you gain knowledge and experience, all of which should qualify you as a good and strong scientist. But there is no recognition of this. On ResearchGate, however, people are already helping other scientists – things like, ‘I did the same experiment, it didn’t work, you need to change this or that and then it is going to work.’ This should be worth something in terms of reputation.”
The Berlin-based company can now concentrate on its goals over the next year. Luke Nosek of Founders Fund, who will also serve on the ResearchGate board, said: “We have a genuine appreciation for the considerable success that the team at ResearchGate has demonstrated since the company was founded. We truly believe that the network has the potential to disrupt a much-outdated system, while leading the way in changing scientific discover and the way research is disseminated.”
The company closed its Series A funding round in September 2010. It was led by Benchmark Capital whose general partner Matt Cohler, also on the RersearchGate board, was an early executive at Facebook and LinkedIn. He said: “ResearchGate’s strong management team has continued to drive growth for the network and make moves toward changing the way we gain access to research findings.”