Is outsourcing experiments “the future of research”?

Palo Alto-based Science Exchange, which bills itself as “an online marketplace for science experiments”, thinks so.

According to their website: “Our goal is to make it easier for researchers to access core resources across institutions. Our first product, ScienceExchange.com brings together research scientists looking to outsource experiments with other scientists at core facilities of major research universities who have the capacity to conduct the experiments. By dealing with all the paying/billing administration, quality assurance and dispute resolution, ScienceExchange.com makes outsourcing experiments easy.”

One thought on “Is outsourcing experiments “the future of research”?

  1. Interesting idea. Numerous questions aside about what “easy payment” means and if/how this service would help ease the sizable hurdles associated with exchanging data and samples (e.g., confidentiality, IP, etc.), I was curious to learn what types of projects and providers Science Exchange has on board. I did a quick search using their “Explore Experiments” tool, typed in keywords for ~ 20 common experiment types, equipment and services and received zero results with the polite disclaimer: “Don’t be disappointed if there aren’t many projects yet”. I did appreciate the nimble interactive implementation of the suggested keywords on their search tool. It also seems they have a robust taxonomy for searching “experiments” and is a nice example as our team works on improving search and accessibility of our online resources, including the cores facility search tool.

    So, is outsourcing experiments the future? I’m far from an expert on this, but with initiatives at universities to improve not only expertise identification (e.g., http://profiles.ucsf.edu), but also core facility optimization and use by internal and external clients (e.g. http://rrp.ucsf.edu/rrp/home.html), I’m not convinced that there is a need for a commercial intermediary. There might be lessons to be learned however, about the potential benefits of an online platform that manages posts, bids, and incorporates tools to track projects.

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