The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the limited liability company created by Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, pediatrician Priscilla Chan, to advance their philanthropic interests, has announced that it is acquiring Meta, an artificial intelligence-powered research search engine startup.
Founded in 2010 as Sciencescape, the Toronto-based firm has commercialized AI technology that can read millions of scientific research papers as they are published, recognize authors and citations, and surface the most relevant and impactful discoveries; it also provides free full-text access to eighteen thousand journals and literature sources. In a Facebook post about the initiative's first acquisition, CZI president of science Cori Bargmann and chief technology officer Brian Pinkerton wrote that the organization's acquisition of Meta is designed to enhance the startup's tools and eventually offer them free of charge to all researchers — not only in the field of biomedical research, where CZI has launched the $3 billion BioHub, but also in areas such as education.
"Meta's tools can dramatically accelerate scientific progress and move us closer to our goal: to support science and technology that will make it possible to cure, prevent, or manage all diseases by the end of the century," Bargmann and Pinkerton wrote. "Meta will help scientists learn from others' discoveries in real time, find key papers that may have gone unnoticed, or even predict where their field is headed."
CEO Sam Molyneux, who co-founded Meta with his sister, Amy, wrote in his Facebook post that as part of CZI, Meta will work with developers to build on its system and/or integrate it into third-party platforms and services. "Through open solicitations, convenings, joint projects, and grants," wrote Molyneux, "we will embrace the ideas and efforts of researchers in the diverse fields that Meta intersects with — including machine learning, network science, ontologies, science metrics, and data visualization," while "working with early-access user groups and development partners at each step of the way."
"Helping scientists will produce a virtuous cycle, as they develop new tools that in turn unlock additional opportunities for faster advancement," he added. "The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative's recognition of this 'meta' effect is why Meta can be a key piece of the puzzle to enable the future of human health that we believe to be possible within this century."