According to the German tech publication Gründerszene, the Berlin-based community for scientists ResearchGate raised $20 million. Gründerszene contacted the team at ResearchGate for more details on the funding but has not received an answer yet.
Their source is the online database WhoGotFunded.com which links to the SEC filing. ResearchGate’s founder Ijad Madisch is known for being tight-lipped about how much the startup raises and the two previous rounds which involved Benchmark Capital, Accel Partners, Funders Fund, Michael Birch and Yammer CEO David Sacks are estimated at around $3-$5 million and $6-$8 million according to TechCrunch.
Though often described as the Facebook for Scientists Madisch and the team seem to have a far bigger vision than simply connecting the global science community. ResearchGate also aims to be a place where scientists can share raw data as well as published results and in general make all the information available for anyone free of charge.
This sounds pretty familiar and up the same alley another startup in the science space was working on. Mendeley, also founded by a team of German scientists and backed by ex-PayPal executives, was one of the hottest startups in Europe. Based in London it quickly grew and attracted scientists from across the globe.
About a month ago Mendeley got acquired by Science-Journal publisher Elsevier (or acquihired as the founders remain on board and transition into new roles inside the company). This acquisition led to some pretty strong reactions in the science and academic community, especially what this means for open access research. Mendeley has been championing open access research through a variety of events and other support. Now that the startup is part of a traditional science-journal publisher many ask what will be left from that mission. And though Mendeley co-founder and CEO Victor Henning assured the community that nothing will change other than Mendeley having more resources to grow, the user base does not seem to trust Elsevier.
So maybe ResearchGate and its investors saw an opportunity to offer academics who either already left Mendeley or are at least playing with the thought a new home. Mendeley raised significantly less investment than ResearchGate, so the price that someone had to pay to acquire the platform would also be much higher than what Elsevier payed for Mendeley.
Therefore the chances are good that ResearchGate is going to remain independent for a longer time, maybe even eyeing an IPO in the future in order to pay out its investors instead of being acquired by a publisher.