Bill Gates melds tech and biotech in $35M social media deal

Bill Gates has added his high-profile name and dollars to the open-science movement, joining other investors in a $35 million financing round for the 5-year-old social network for scientists called ResearchGate. It's one of the latest investments from the Microsoft ($MSFT) chairman and world's richest man that focuses on supporting translation of discoveries into breakthroughs for patients.

Gates already has a long track record of backing startups involved in life sciences and social media. In addition to pumping billions into healthcare and research via his foundation, he has invested in a portfolio of biotech upstarts such as Nimbus Discovery and Foundation Medicine. And Microsoft invested early in Facebook ($FB). With the investment in ResearchGate, Gates has supported an outfit that combines the worlds of social media and life sciences.

ResearchGate, which has offices in Cambridge, MA, and Berlin, Germany, specializes in providing a social network where scientists can share their research and share feedback with their peers in real time rather than following the traditional path of peer-reviewed journal publishing. The company has emerged amid a growing sentiment in the scientific community that data from experiments should be freely available online without the constraints of subscription-only access. Even with big players like Gates involved, the open-science movement has a ways to go. 

"Backed by this growth investment of $35 million," the company said in a statement, "ResearchGate will continue to lead the research community into the open science era by removing archaic silos of science to intelligently connect scientists, data, and resources."

The social network for scientists now has more than 2.9 million members. Company co-founder and CEO Ijad Madisch wants to improve how data are shared and how scientific reputations are rated on the social network. Money helps. With the improvements in mind, the company drew investments for its latest round from Gates, Tenaya Capital, Dragoneer Investment Group, Thrive Capital and previous backers Benchmark and tech vet Peter Thiel's Founders Fund, which also backed Facebook, according to its June 4 release.

- here's the release
- see the article from Forbes

Special Report: The 25 most influential people in biopharma today - Bill Gates

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