ResearchGATE announced Wednesday that it's raised an undisclosed amount of Series A funding.
The round is of interest partly because of what the startup is: it's a social network for scientists, and partly because where the funds came from: Michael Birch (founder of Bebo, which was sold to AOL for $800 million, and Matt Cohler, a partner at Benchmark Capital), as well as a number of angel investors. The funds will be used to expand the Berlin-based startup, which has already amassed 500,000 users since it launched in 2008.
The site was built out of the personal needs of it founding parters, who have friends and collabroators all over the globe. The site was designed to give them a way to do more then simple pass around emails with drafts, but to collaborate with teams, and connect with other researchers.
"I would say that 80% of the content of the site has been generated by our users," said Dr. Ijad Madisch, one of the companies three founders and its CEO, in an interview with VatorNews. These users have created a bevy of groups and widgets that range in disciplines from physics to zoology. The community, in addition to allowing users to connect with the colleagues they already know and work with, allow users to find each other in a variety of different ways, most notably by what studies they are reading at the time, allowing users with highly specific interests to connect quickly and easily.
ResearchGATE also allows users to make connections with friends they have on existing social media sites like Facebook, Linked In and Twitter. In addition to simply importing contacts it also allows you to push updates between the sites, with a surprising amount of control. "You have the power to choose", Dr. Madisch told Vator, "Users can push updates from ResearchGATE to Facebook, or in the opposite direction from the privacy settings. Users have a lot of control over what they share and where."
Besides Dr. Madisch, who has his M.D. and Ph.D. from the Medical School of Hannover, Germany, and currently doing research at Harvard Medical School, ResearchGATE's other founders include Sören Hofmayer, an M.D., from the Medical School of Hannover, and Horst Fickenscher, a computer scientist who earned his Dipl.-Inf. degree at the University of Passau, Germany. The company has offices in the US, the UK and Germany.