Toronto-based Meta, which uses machine learning to organize information in scientific papers, has been acquired by Mark Zucerkberg and Priscilla Chan’s $45 billion philanthropy organization, according to a report from TechCrunch.
The Chan Zuckerberg initiative will make the tool free after enhancing the product. Speaking with TechCrunch, Cori Bargmann, president of Science, and Brian Pinkerton, president of Technology for the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, said that Meta’s potential was “virtually limitless.” The acquisition was part of Chan Zuckerberg’s $3 billion investment towards curing all disease, and is not yet complete. The terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.
“A researcher could use Meta to help identify emerging techniques for understanding coronary artery disease; a graduate student could see that two different diseases activate the same immune defense pathway; and clinicians could find scientists working on the most promising Zika treatments sooner,” they wrote. “In the long run, it could be extended to other areas of knowledge: for example, it could help educators stay up to date on developmental science to better understand how children learn.”
Meta’s platform aims to make relevant scientific papers more discoverable; according to founders and siblings Amy and Sam Molyneux, since 1809, 25 million biomedical research papers have been published. Meta’s platform is meant to make sense of all this data and deliver it to industries within science depending on interest.
“Imagine if you were a major funder of grants and you’re trying to figure out where to put your research dollars if you know something is going to be big ahead of time. You can deploy capital and you can actually accelerate that technology,” Amy told BetaKit. At the time, the company reported that it was working on an algorithm to predict which technologies are emerging in the future, and acquired the technology behind Apple’s Siri to work towards this goal.
In November 2015, the company raised a $6 million Series A in a round led by Rho Canada Ventures, with participation from Western Technology Investment, iGan Partners, and angel investors. In September 2016, Meta was among BetaKit’s Next selectees, which named the startups that seemed likely to become Spotlight Award winners.
Photo via StartUPHere