Science Exchange raises $1.5m in Silicon Valley funding
Thursday, December 8, 2011/
Australian-founded Science Exchange has raised $1.5 million in funding from a raft of Silicon Valley investors, after graduating from Y Combinator just months ago.
Science Exchange was launched in August by breast cancer researcher Elizabeth Iorns and Dan Knox, both of whom were born in New Zealand but are Australian citizens.
Based in Palo Alto in California, Science Exchange recently graduated from US incubator Y Combinator.
Now it’s been revealed the start-up has raised $1.5 million in a funding round led by Andreessen Horowitz, along with high profile investor Yuri Milner, Crosslink Capital and SV Angel.
Milner has invested in the likes of Facebook, Groupon and Zynga, and is the founder of DST Global Solutions, an IT services and software provider.
Science Exchange allows researchers looking to outsource experiments to connect with other researchers, institutions and companies that have the time or equipment to spare.
The researchers set the parameters, including price, and create a network of trusted connections.
Science Exchange acts as a broker, taking a commission on each completed deal. The average project size is about $5,000, but can range from less than $1,000 to more than $30,000.
“We created it because there’s a real trend in scientific research with the development of specialised equipment, and that specialised equipment is very expensive,” Iorns says.
“What universities do is they purchase this equipment and they house it in specialised centres called core facilities… Scientists pay to use those machines.”
“What I realised what that that was actually very inefficient because those core facilities were [only] used by the scientists at that one university.”
“But there are thousands of core facilities across all of the universities in the whole world and it would be great if everybody could assess them.”
“What we did was create Science Exchange, where it’s an online marketplace – a platform where we have a database of all of the core facilities and scientific service providers.”
According to Iorns, the site has already signed up more than 1,000 providers including Stanford School of Medicine, Yale, Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The company is also in discussions with the NSW Office of the Chief Scientist about listing some of the state’s research facilities as providers on the site.
According to Knox, it is hoped scientists will increasingly rely on Science Exchange to connect with other researchers, with the ultimate goal of improving the efficiency of scientific research.
“As the research world becomes smaller, we give researchers the ability to access specialised expertise and equipment on a global scale,” Knox says.
“You’re saving a lot of research dollars. You find the true price and allow people who are more efficient to get more business.”