On the future of Docear: Funding for the next 18 months and 2nd prize at ego.Business (business plan contest)

As you might know, Docear originates from ‘SciPlore MindMapping’ which some friends and I developed as part of my PhD studies. Our work was  partly financed by my university (Otto-von-Guericke University, Magdeburg) and supported by many others such as the University of California, Berkeley. One year ago my friends Stefan and Marcel and I decided to make SciPlore MindMapping a full-time project, since then being called Docear. Luckily, we received a 100,000€ EXIST scholarship for one year  from the European Union and German Federal Ministryof Economics and Technology. Well, that year has passed quite quickly and during the last months we had to think about the future. And the future looks bright 🙂

Docear Team at the ego.-BUSINESS award ceremony

Stefan Langer, Joeran Beel, and Marcel Genzmehr from Docear at the award ceremony from ego.-BUSINESS

A couple of days ago we received a scholarship that allows Stefan, Marcel and me to work for another 18 month full-time on Docear. The scholarship is granted by the European Union and Federal State of Saxony-Anhalt in Germany. This is just awesome because when I look at the achievements from the past 12 month… I am really excited to think about what we will be able to do in the next 18 months. The scholarship is called ego.-START and we are really glad about all the support we received from the Investitionsbank Sachsen-Anhalt who helped us applying for this scholarship. And as with the previous grant, there are no strings attached. I think this is really amazing and I don’t know of any other country in the world that is that supportive to young researchers and entrepreneurs. ‘Entrepreneurs?’ you might wonder? Yes, we are considering to start a business with Docear.

Actually, we wrote a business plan and today we won second price at the business plan contest ego.-BUSINESS in the final round (in the two previous rounds we won first price). The feedback of the jury was overwhelming. One reviewer wrote this was one of the best business plans he had ever read. So, what does this mean for you, as a user of Docear? It means you can continue to use Docear as you are used to. Docear is open source, and will will remain open source,  and hence free to use. However, in the future you can expect some premium services. It’s not sure yet which services we will offer. But we think about a mobile app (Android & iOS) a web version of Docear and Add-Ons that allow you to collaborate, i.e. working simultaneously on the same data (mind maps, PDFs, reference data, …) with your colleagues. I would like to point out that at this stage it is not even certain that we will run Docear as a normal company. It might be that we will continue our work as part of the university. What is certain is that we will continue our work on Docear full-time for at least another 18 months, that the Docear you know remains free and open source, and that some day there will be additional premium services.

6 comments to On the future of Docear: Funding for the next 18 months and 2nd prize at ego.Business (business plan contest)

  • james roughton

    This is great news for you guys. I look forward to what is next in store for Docear

  • ray

    Fantastic news!
    I’m very happy that you have collaborated with Freeplane. I’m experimenting with the latest release and it looks powerful and innovative. I hope I can figure it out!
    The news of your new funding, and your commitment to open source is inspiring. Please keep up the good work!

  • John King

    Well done! And good luck for the future. For an academic community moving towards open access, I am glad you are staying with the open source model – although it is then very important to think about how you will engage academics to help you develop the software. It would be reasonable to spend some time and money on dissemination activities or partner with arxiv – a link on that site would rapidly increase your reach. Perhaps you can develop interesting commercial versions for other markets.

  • Matthew Titsworth

    Docear has become an integral part of my research/dissertation workflow and I think it has real potential to become a unique part of the academic experience. It’s also good to hear that there are those out there being successful at academic entrepreneurship. I spent several years in the local start up community and while I am a researcher at heart I came to think that there were pieces of the model which were ripe for adoption in academia. I certainly intend to keep using your product and would definitely be willing to purchase services such as collaboration. I think that is absolutely one the most useful features you could have on your roadmap going forward. Best of luck to you going forward.

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