Tuesday, June 12, 2012

How ResearchGate plans to turn science upside down

Most startup founders dream of being the next Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg. Ijad Madisch, the co-founder and CEO of science network ResearchGate — a five-year-old service that has just announced a new round of venture funding — has rather different ambitions.
“When I first met [board member and partner at Benchmark] Matt Cohler, he asked what I really wanted to do,” he says.” I explained that my goal is to win a Nobel Prize.”

And he’s not kidding. The Harvard-trained virologist and computer scientist put a fast track medical career on hold in order to concentrate on building a website that he hopes can change the face of science. The reason is simple.
“I was on my way to becoming a professor, I’d published a lot,” he tells me, speaking from the company’s headquarters in Berlin. “But I noticed that I wanted more. Sure, I could be changing one discipline, but I wanted to change more than that… and I think if you can make it easier to share research, then it can change the world.”
In the simplest terms, ResearchGate is referred to as “Facebook for scientists” — a social network where professional researchers can share their work, communicate with each other and ask questions. But because it focuses on sharing knowledge, rather than activity, it’s probably got more in common with the likes of Quora or Stack Overflow.
And it’s proven very popular, with 1.4 million users from around the planet, sharing ideas and talking to each other about their work in fields from biology to physics to social science. By asking questions of each other, scientists are able to identify the academics who can help them, and perhaps avoid constantly reinventing the wheel. Read more...

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