Founded in May 2008 by Ijad Madisch, Sören Hofmayer and Horst Fickenscher, ResearchGate, based in Berlin, is all about helping scientists to manage a international network of similar researchers with equal interests. These days ResearchGate has more than 1 million registered users, nearly the half of them are biologists and medical scientists, where the other half comes from all other scientific disciplines.
By now ResearchGate is supported by two american investors (Benchmark Capital and Accel Partners), who also provided other Web 2.0 startups venture capital in the past like Facebook and Twitter.
The starting point at ResearchGATE is, similar to Facebook and Google + and all other social networks, the personal profile of each user, which let the user take part on the platform and let them use the Web 2.0 applications provided by ResearchGate, such as the semantic search for articles from professional journals or the search for colleagues who are dedicated to similar research topics, but also the use of the virtual conferencing tool. However, the core of everything is still the discussion with colleagues and the opportunity to ask questions and to discuss hypotheses. This is done in forums or groups like everywhere else on the web.
In the end you can say that everything exists already on the web and basically there is nothing new about ResearchGate, but the really interesting thing is the idea to connect professionals with each other and not everyone with everyone. Finally ResearchGate sounds like LinkedIn but the idea behind is more a humanistic idea to build a community of researchers, with no distinctions of disciplines or nations, for a free exchange of knowledge. (see Bernd Graff at SZ)